Residents are protesting as more and more local banks close

Blackpool residents are protesting at the closure of the last bank in their neighbourhood.

Friday, 3rd March 2017, 9:31 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:59 am
Residents and councillors are protesting over the closure of Lloyds Bank on Whitegate Drive

Folk living near Whitegate Drive are calling for Lloyds to have a change of heart over the planned shutdown of its branch on the corner of Forest Gate.

It is a familiar battle being fought all across the Fylde coast as more and more of our high street banks shut their doors.

The money lenders say most people now use internet banking and so there is no longer the same demand for physical buildings and face-to-face staff.

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But that is no consolation to people like Eve Hennerley.

The 79-year-old says she will be stranded when Lloyds has gone from Whitegate Drive.

She said: “I’ve lived in this area for 43 years and have always used this branch.

“The staff are so helpful and they really looked out for me when my husband died.

“I suffer from osteoporosis in my knees and back so I can’t get around easily. I’ll have to get a taxi to get to the bank in future.”

The older generation prefer dealing with people than machines.

Catherine Currie, 81, said: “I don’t have internet and so I can’t use the computer to do my banking. Going into a branch is the only way.”

Another Lloyds customer Anne Joiner, 71, said: “I haven’t got a computer and I don’t do mobiles.

“I like to have interaction with the staff and appreciate the help they give.

“I go into the bank about once a week.”

Dave Blacker, chairman of Talbot ward PACT (police and community together), said: “There is an element of being bullied into changing your banking habits.

“But here in Blackpool around a third of people don’t have computers, so the closure of all these branches is very worrying.”

Coun Mark Smith, ward councillor and cabinet member for economic development on Blackpool Council, is worried about the impact on the whole town.

He said: “There have been so many closures but local businesses really rely on the banks for transactions and for thinks like getting their change.

“It is going to impact the local community.

“We used to have a number of banks in this area and now the last man standing is going too.”

In recent times this part of Whitegate Drive has lost branches of NatWest, Barclays and Yorkshire Bank.

The Post Office also closed last year, although services were transferred to a counter inside the Whitegate Drive Convenience Store.

Campaigner David Slattery-Christy of the Whitegate Community Group is so incensed he has written to the Prime Minister about it.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden has also written to Lloyds demanding a rethink.

A spokesperson for Lloyds Bank said: “The Whitegate Drive, Blackpool branch will close on May 24 2017.

“This branch has been identified for closure because of the changing way customers choose to bank with us, which has resulted in customers using it less often.

“The majority of customers now regularly use alternative branches or use other ways to bank such as online and telephone banking to complete their banking needs.

“We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause and have informed customers of the closest alternative branch, which is Corporation Street, Blackpool.”

The bank says:

* 86 per cent of our personal customers already use other branches, such as Corporation Street, Blackpool branch.

* The number of counter transactions made by personal customers using the Whitegate Drive, Blackpool branch decreased last year by around 21 per cent.

* The branch has 43 regular weekly personal and business customers.

* The Post Office is a short walk away and we are proactively talking to customers about the service they offer.

* The nearest free to use ATM is also a brief walk away.

* Customers will have their accounts realigned to Corporation Street, Blackpool, less than one mile away and there will be no other impact to the way they manage their accounts.

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