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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bank boss addresses concerns over branch closures

* The HSBC branch in Llangollen which is earmarked for closure.

An HSBC boss says the bank will do all it can to help anyone left with problems following the closure of its branch in Llangollen.

The assurance comes in an email to North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood who contacted HSBC earlier this week to voice his concerns about the impact the closure of the branches at Llangollen, Conwy and Beaumaris will have on local communities.
The statement sent to Mr Isherwood by Rachel K Thomas, Regional DirectorRetail Banking & Wealth Management, South West & Wales, says:

Dear Mr Isherwood

Thank you for your email dated 12th November regarding the closure of our Conwy, Llangollen and Beaumaris branches.

I understand the concerns that you’ve raised but please let me assure you that the decision to close these branches has not been taken lightly. 

We have very carefully assessed the sustainability of these premises, including a full study of customer activity at the branch and an evaluation of the options available to us that might help to restore a healthy level of business.

Whilst we recognise the value of our services to our customers at these branches, HSBC has a commitment to managing our business sustainably, efficiently and cost effectively. As we referenced in our first letter, changing banking habits mean that our customers are increasingly using telephone and internet banking, and this has had a knock-on effect on
footfall within our branch network.

Occasionally, as is the case with Conwy, Llangollen and Beaumaris we will have to make a difficult decision to close a branch in order to reflect these changing banking patterns and to remain successful in the long term.

As mentioned in my earlier letter, we are very conscious of the impact a branch closure can have on the elderly and people with mobility issues and we are determined to do as much as possible to mitigate these effects. 

For this reason I would be grateful if you could make me aware of any individual cases of difficulty that are raised with you so that we can arrange for appropriate assistance. HSBC branch staff are identifying customers who have problems accessing banking facilities and providing them with advice and practical solutions where appropriate.  This includes roviding 1-1 appointments to discuss future banking needs and resolving issues

surrounding how these can best be achieved, talking through alternative ways of doing their banking and providing training on internet, phone banking and debit card use, including using the ATM for withdrawing cash.

In addition, from Spring this year all nine million HSBC and first direct customers have been able to use the Post Office for cash withdrawals, cash deposits, cheque deposits and balance enquiries.  For Conwy, Llangollen and Beaumaris branches there is a Post Office within half a mile.

We  are  also  proactively  contacting  our  business  customers to discuss alternative  solutions with them such as arranging for cash to be collected and  sent  straight  to  the  cash  centre  or setting-up with Chip and Pin facilities.

Although I recognise your disappointment with our decision, I would point out that we have invested in our branch network. For example, Menai Bridge branch and Wrexham branch were refurbished in 2011 to improve their facilities and we have also previously refurbished Llandudno Mostyn Street and Colwyn Bay.

If you would prefer to discuss any of these issues during a meeting, then please do not hesitate to contact me. Again, I am sorry that we have had to take this very difficult decision, but I hope that I have explained the reasons for the closures.

Rachel K Thomas
Regional Director
Retail Banking & Wealth Management, South West & Wales

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