PLANS to close the ‘world’s local bank’ in Corwen have been condemned as “another nail in the coffin” for the town.
HSBC, the only bank open full-time in the Dee Valley community, will close in October because the company claims the branch’s usage is falling as more people use 24 hour telephone and internet banking.
But AMs and MPs have blasted the decision as lunacy and failing to serve local needs.
“HSBC prides itself in advertisements as ‘the local bank’. Well it won’t be very local for people in the Corwen area,” said Plaid’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd.
“This will do little to change the increasing perception that ordinary people are being taken to the cleaners by the banking bosses.
“Many small businesses and farmers use the Corwen branch and the inconvenience this will cause doesn’t seem to have been a factor in HSBC’s decision,” he added.
The bank said they will automatically transfer the administration of people’s accounts to the Llangollen branch, 10 miles away.
Residents with a HSBC account can also travel 13 miles to the Ruthin branch and 20 miles to Denbigh’s HSBC.
“What is going to be happening now? There is no cashpoint at NatWest, the post office is not open at night, and the cash point at HSBC will be going as well,” said Gareth Hughes, a shoe retailer in Corwen and HSBC account holder.
“People will have to go out of town for money and they are likely to then shop there as well.
“Corwen used to have a Bank of Ireland cashpoint outside the post office, but that was broken into about 12 months ago and they never repaired it because they said it was not busy enough.
“It is not going to do any good for Corwen. It is another nail in the coffin,” he added.
There are already no branches of Lloyds TSB in the Dee Valley and Corwen’s only other bank, NatWest, is only open Monday, Thursday and Friday’s from 10am until 2.30pm.
County councillor Huw Jones said: “Unless Bank of Ireland gets their act together and reinstalls their cash machine at Corwen Post Office, we will have in future no cash machines in the town and a NatWest Bank open for three days a week.”
Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones has written to HSBC to ask them to rethink the closure.
“It means customers will now have to travel 10 extra miles over to Llangollen in order to access a branch office, a service they currently have right on their doorstep,” said Ms Jones.
“This will also have a big impact on small, local businesses in Corwen at a time when they really need the help, advice and support of a local bank,” she said.
Clwyd South AM Ken Skates added: “It seems the ‘Worlds Local Bank’, as HSBC likes to style itself, doesn’t apply this sentiment to Corwen. Moving out of the town is bad news for Corwen and the rural community around it and bad news for the people and businesses who use the branch.
“Though there has been an increase in internet banking in recent years, the reality is that branches are still a fundamental part of our communities.
“That is why we need assurances from HSBC that vulnerable and older people will not be cut adrift from vital services and that they provide assurances that Corwen’s ATM cash point is retained.” he added.
HSBC account holders cannot use several services in the post office, such as cash deposit, cheque deposit and customers cannot ask for a balance enquiry.
“On occasions we may need to take the difficult decision to close a branch where customer footfall has fallen dramatically or there has been a shift in customer shopping patterns,” said a HSBC spokeswoman.
“Our network has to be 'fit for purpose' and we have to ensure that our branches are located in areas where they are actually used,” she added.
The bank is now helping customers to reorganise their finances ahead of the planned closure on October 26, 2012.
The two members of staff who run the branch will transfer to another branch.