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Loss of banks could hit economy of small towns across Suffolk, says MP

PUBLISHED: 09:41 16 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:41 16 February 2018

The Bungay branch of Lloyds is under threat.  Picture: NICK BUTCHER

The Bungay branch of Lloyds is under threat. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Archant © 2017

A plan to close Bungay’s Lloyds bank has led to concerns being raised by the mayor of the town and also an MP in Parliament.

NatWest, Smallgate, Beccles.
Picture: Nick Butcher NatWest, Smallgate, Beccles. Picture: Nick Butcher

Bungay mayor Mary Matthews spoke of the “disappointment” and “outrage” felt by residents of the town.

She said: “The town council are incredibly worried, in future years we may be a bankless society but it is way too soon right now.”

Waveney MP Peter Aldous said he was concerned banks were closing town branches in an “indiscriminate, non-strategic way that will have an adverse impact on the elderly, the disabled, those without their own transport”.

Mr Aldous is particularly concerned about Lloyds Bank’s plans to close its branch in Bungay, while Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey has been left “extremely disappointed” at the bank’s plans to do the same in Halesworth and Southwold.

Lloyds Bank in Halesworth. Picture: Google. Lloyds Bank in Halesworth. Picture: Google.

Beccles is also due to lose its branch.

Mr Aldous spoke about the issue in the House of Commons as MPs called on the Government to support measures to protect access to banking services in local communities.

He said: “My main concern is that, if Lloyds proceeds with the closure of its Bungay branch, there will be no bank left in the town, and I believe that we need policies to prevent that from happening.

“Some may say that I am a Luddite and that we cannot hold back the inevitable march of the internet and modernisation, but what concerns me is that some banks are closing branches in an indiscriminate, non-strategic way that will have an adverse impact on the elderly, the disabled, those without their own transport, small businesses, and the economies of the towns and hinterlands that will be left with no bank standing.

Bangay branch of Lloyds bank.
Picture: Nick Butcher Bangay branch of Lloyds bank. Picture: Nick Butcher

“Lloyds is redirecting its customers to its Beccles branch. That may mean that people who came into Bungay once a week to go to the bank, to do their shopping and to have a coffee or a meal may now do all that in Beccles.”

Lloyds has said the decision to close branches was not taken lightly.

At Southwold, only 18 customers use the branch each week – 82p fewer than a typical branch. In Halesworth there are only 40 personal and business customers a week.

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