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Monday, November 18, 2013

KLS calls for Welsh Government support in fight to save bank

The chair of Keep Llangollen Special, Martin Crumpton, has sent an open letter to Wales' Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart, asking for the Welsh Government's support in the fight to prevent the closure of HSBC bank branches, including the one in Llangollen.

It says:
I write as Chair of Keep Llangollen Special, a Community Group, to raise our concerns regarding the controversial withdrawal of branch services by HSBC in Llangollen, Conwy and Beaumaris.
We have read the statement from HSBC in response to Mark Isherwood's approach to them assiduously. Our conclusion is that this matter goes far beyond local interest, even beyond being a Welsh National issue, but we urge you to bring this to the Senedd and issue a Statement.
* Edwina Hart AM.
The crux of HSBC's argument is that customers' shopping and behaviour is changing, largely switching to the Internet for banking and buying, although they acknowledge their branch closures will cause some hardship and have pledged some manner of support in those cases. We do not dispute that they incur costs in keeping branches open when, by their self-determined standards, they are underused.
The crux of our argument is that all businesses incur overheads - shops pay rent, rates, taxes, the cost of vehicles and their running costs and maintenance. The difference is that HSBC and other banks have the option of eliminating these overheads by transferring their customer-facing activities to the Internet.

When HSBC closed its Corwen branch, they said customers could be serviced in Llangollen. Isn’t that a kind of contractual obligation?

We note that HSBC is spearheading what the other big banks will also do; Barclays have announced 1,700 job losses and will also close branches. RBS will not be far behind. Soon there will only be branches in major cities; the progression is logical. The paradox is that other businesses make cuts due to economic hardship, but the high street banks (soon to be a redundant term) are back in record profits yet still reluctant to support and help the economies that bailed them out.
In short, branch closures are an exercise in maximising profits at the expense of their customers. So if the future of banking lies in a dependency upon the Internet, why choose HSBC, RBS or any of the so-called high street banks when there are more ethical competitors such as Metro Bank and mutuals such as building society banks?
Minister, we understand you have no means other than persuasion to prevent these and future branch closures, so we urge you to switch banks, just as we can all do, for the Welsh Government, and encourage Assembly Members, local authorities and staff to do likewise. We urge you to restore direct customer and finance relationships by promoting, encouraging and fostering Credit Unions all over Wales and set a shining example to the rest of the UK that customers, no matter what scale, personal or business, are not powerless.
On behalf of the undersigned, I ask for your earliest possible response.
With kind regards,
Martin Crumpton, Chairman of Keep Llangollen Special Community Group.

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