Battle launched to save last high street bank

Traders, councillors and residents are up in arms about the proposed closure of Yorkshire Bank, the only remaining bank in Layton.
Traders, councillors and residents are up in arms about the proposed closure of Yorkshire Bank, the only remaining bank in Layton.
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Angry residents are battling to save their last high street bank after it was announced it is to close later this year.

The Yorkshire Bank on Westcliffe Drive in Layton is due to shut its doors on September 14 with customers’ accounts being transferred to the Abingdon Street branch in the town centre.

But councillors, business owners and residents say the move will leave them without any local banking services.

Layton councillors Martin Mitchell and Kath Benson have written to Yorkshire Bank calling for a re-think, and traders are set to start a petition in protest at the plans.

Coun Mitchell said: “We believe that for the consultation to be a genuine one there has to be a chance of a u-turn.

“The bank has stated locals can use the Post Office for their day-to-day banking. But if a Post Office is a substitute for a bank then they may as well close all their branches.

“Many private and business customers value the personal contact which is available face-to-face.

“The bank staff have a reputation as being friendly and helpful.

“The Yorkshire Bank, like others, has made a big thing about being concerned about the local community. The time has come for it to put its words into action.”

Cindy Platt, who owns Layton Launderette and is a member of the Layton Traders Group, said people feared the community would suffer with the loss of its last high street bank.

She added: “Royal Bank of Scotland closed last year, and the HSBC branch went a while ago.

“What we are afraid of is if the Yorkshire Bank goes the community will start getting destroyed because a lot of people use it, especially elderly people and not everyone can drive or get into town.

“People come here and go to the shops and do their banking at the same time, so it supports all the businesses.

“A lot of the businesses have been here for a long time.

“We’re not going to let it go without a fight and there will be a petition in all the shops which we hope people will come in and sign.”

A spokesman for the Yorkshire Bank said the closure was the result of a review of its branch network and added the move reflected “the changing needs of customers who want to access more day-to-day banking services quickly, on the move and outside normal business hours.”

Steve Fletcher, head of customer banking networks, Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank, said: “I understand this will not be welcome news for those who use this particular branch.

“These are difficult decisions but ones we must face as we try to keep up with the pace of change in the way people want to bank.

“We have to balance our investment to ensure we support demand where it is greatest, across mobile, online and branch services.

“Branches remain vitally important to us, and we continue to invest in them, the services they offer and when we offer them.

“I hope the investment we are making in the overall quality of our branch network, the big increase in Saturday opening and the availability of other ways to bank, like local Post Office counters, will minimise the effect of this announcement for customers.”

The bank will place posters in the branch advising customers, and write to them at least 12 weeks before the branch is due to close to remind them of the alternative ways they can continue to manage their accounts including nearest branches, ATMs and Post Office counters.

The Royal Bank of Scotland closed its Layton branch in August last year, blaming the move on an increase in internet and mobile phone banking, as well as a fall in customers.