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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

MP writes to bank boss over branch closures

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones has written to HSBC Regional Director Jonathon Byrne, posing a series of detailed questions on the bank's proposals to close its branches in Ruabon and Chirk.

Ms Jones (pictured) said: "I have been working very closely with community representatives and a large number of constituents to produce this letter. We demand answers.

"We want HSBC to keep both branches open. We are all dismayed by how the UK Government has weakened a previously agreed 'banking protocol' so that there is now no requirement to keep open the last bank in every community.

"However, we are also appalled at HSBC's appalling treatment of loyal customers in our local area. We call on them to re-think their dreadful decision.

"The letter we have produced is the result of many long conversations, emails, letters and points made at local community meetings. We ask detailed questions about a whole range of matters - including business banking; face-to-face service provision; ATM (cashpoint) facilities; customers who do not use the internet; community groups; and the lack of existing Post Office provision. We also call on HSBC to reveal statistical details about the number of transactions carried out locally."   

The letter ...

Dear Mr Byrne,
I am appalled that HSBC has stated its wishes to close the long established HSBC branches in Ruabon and Chirk. As you will know, both branches fall within my constituency and I have been contacted by many constituents who are deeply concerned about the closures.
Both branches have long been an important part of the community and local residents have relied upon, and continue to rely upon, the services that these branches provide.
As the representative Member of Parliament for both Ruabon and Chirk, I know the impact that these closures will have on local businesses and how they will be affected by not having the physical presence of a bank. Though I recognise that there has been an increase in internet banking in recent years, the reality is that branches are still a fundamental part of our communities.
Many constituents are concerned about the option of moving to Wrexham and how eas y it will be to access their finances. The Wrexham branch is already heavily mechanised and loyal customers in both Ruabon and Chirk have appreciated and needed the face-to-face service that has been provided. Many customers have been loyal to the branches for many years.
Can you provide numbers that show that transactions have fallen? Can you provide information on how many accounts are held at both branches? Following the closures of Cefn Mawr, Llangollen and Rhosllannerchrugog branches, how many accounts were served by these two branches and will those accounts now all be transferred to Wrexham? Please provide figures to show why you consider Ruabon and Chirk branches to be no longer commercially viable.
I have liaised with many community representatives and a large number of constituents and I would like to raise the following questions directly on their behalf:
1.    What provisions will be made available to business customers? Both branches current ly serve a large number of diverse local businesses. Local business customers will be forced to endure addition costs travelling to Oswestry or Wrexham on a daily basis. What will HSBC do to ensure that business customers in Ruabon, Chirk and the wider area are not directly affected by these closures? This also applies to customers running charitable organisations and local groups in both areas.
2.    What is HSBC’s current plans for ATM availability? As you will know, they provide a vital local amenity and the nearest free cash point is not for a number of miles. Will there still be ATMs available for loyal customers who have used the ATMs for a number of years?

3.    With regards to Post Offices, both local Post Offices have an extremely limited service in terms of access to finances. How has this been considered by HSBC?

4.    After closures such as this, customers have been known to be the target of telephone scams (phone calls to local people claiming to be from the bank about the moving of accounts). What is HSBC doing to do to ensure communication with their customers is efficient and clear?
5.    Both branches are situated in prominent community buildings. If HSBC goes ahead with this appalling decision, is there a plan for the future of either building?

6.    There is still a large proportion of the community who do not use internet or telephone banking. How will HSBC ensure that these members of the community, many of them long standing, loyal customers, are not cut off completely from these banking services? Some residents, who despair at HSBC’s proposals, have asked that if they do go ahead will mobile banking be provided? They also ask if training will be provided to show customers how to use internet banking if they have not done so before?
I would like to ask directly what HSBC’s commitment is to villages and small towns in Wales. With so many closures in my constituency and across North Wales, I am appalled by the lack of commitment that HSBC has shown to local customers who have been loyal for many years. How long have these closures been discussed? Why have these local communities not been approached sooner? HSBC absolutely must consider the implications that any closure would have on our local communities and must rethink these inexcusable proposals immediately.

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