Angry customers have voiced their alarm after a shock decision to close one of the main banks in Hucknall town centre.
The branch of HSBC on High Street, which has served the town since 1875, dating back to its life as Midland Bank, is to shut its doors on Friday, January 13. There will be no consultation period.
The closure will affect thousands of account holders, whose nearest branch from next year will be in Arnold, which is 20 minutes’ drive away, or on Clumber Street in Nottingham, which is nine miles away.
The decision is part of a nationwide cull by HSBC of more than 100 branches said to be under-used, which reflects the migration of many clients to online banking.
But some customers, particularly the elderly and disabled, are not happy. An 81-year-old grandmother from Hucknall, who has had an account at the High Street branch for almost 40 years, said: “I am bitterly disappointed because I prefer to go into a bank for personal contact and advice.
“I like to see a nice, smiling face when I am banking. It means a lot to be recognised by friendly staff.”
A 57-year-old Hucknall man said: “It’s a sad sign of the times. The internet and the digital revolution are changing all aspects of our lives.”
HSBC’s branch director Caroline Brown has written to all its Hucknall customers, “apologising for any inconvenience” the closure might cause and offering alternative options, including use of the town’s main post office, also on High Street, to pay in or cash cheques, withdraw money or check balances.
The letter reads: “In recent years, the growth of telephone and online banking has naturally resulted in some of our branches being used less frequently. Therefore, after careful consideration, we have taken this difficult decision. I am confident that our other branches in the area will provide you with the service you expect.”
HSBC has revealed that 93% of contact with the bank is now made via phone, internet or smartphone app, and 97% of cash withdrawals are made via an ATM.
However, the closure still disappointed Hucknall’s Conservative MP, Mark Spencer, who said: “HSBC has a commercial right to make this decision, but it will cause inconvenience. I urge Hucknall people to vote with their feet and support the banks that remain in the town centre and also the post office.
“Yes, the world is moving on, but if we, as a community, choose to shop or do our financial business online, then it will have an impact.”
The branch cull has been attacked by other MPs, who say customers are paying the price for a string of costly scandals that have involved HSBC in recent years, relating to Libor rate fixing, money laundering and the mis-selling of PPI.
However, the bank insists the decision has been made in the wake of customers’ changing banking habits. A spokesperson for HSBC issued this statement:
“We continually review our branch network to make sure our branches are in the right locations for our customers and we have a sustainable network for the future.
“Over the past five years, we have seen an overall reduction in footfall at our branches of more than 40%, and sometimes we have to make the difficult decision to close branches. These are not decisions we take lightly and we work closely with those impacted, including customers and staff, to help them understand their options.
“We understand branch closures may cause concern for some of our customers. We have put in place a number of measures to help, including a partnership with the Post Office, so our customers can still carry out their day-to-day banking.
”There won’t be any job losses as a result of this closure. We will be looking to move those roles to other local branches.”