Businesses suffer as mobile banking branch fails to arrive

The former Lloyds bank in Bungay has now been boarded up. Photo: James Carr.

The former Lloyds bank in Bungay has now been boarded up. Photo: James Carr. - Credit: Archant

The small businesses of a bankless town were left struggling for cash with which to trade after the mobile bank branch they depend on failed to arrive.

In May, Lloyds Banking Group closed its Bungay branch, it was the town’s fifth bank closure in recent years and left it without either a local branch or a 24-hour cash machine.

Since the closure residents and businesses have been dependent on Lloyds’ mobile service which visits the town each week.

However last week the service failed to arrive in the town, leaving businesses high and dry as they attempted to cash takings and pick up a cash float ahead of the town’s antique street market.

Mark Hougham, has owned and run The Castle Inn in Earsham Street for 11 years, during which time he has always banked with Lloyds.

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He said: “We wanted to cash the week’s taking and create a float. With the market coming on Sunday I needed twice as much as normal; it’s imperative I’ve got that to trade.

“My wife went as normal on Thursday but the bank wasn’t there. She was told she would have to go to Beccles – which she couldn’t do as I had the car.”

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The following day Mr Hougham was forced to travel to Beccles in order to carry out the business banking.

He said: “It took an hour out of my day; driving to Beccles and queuing up. It used to take five minutes.”

Lloyds closed the Bungay branch after seeing a decline in the number of people using its services but promised to provide the mobile banking service as a way to continue serving the community.

Mr Hougham added: “It’s making a massive difference to small businesses.

“They should at least offer what they said they were going to do – it’s the second time it hasn’t turned up.

“Obviously I’m disappointed they left the town but they need to honour their promises.”

A spokesman for Lloyds has since apologised and said: “We are sorry for the disruption of our mobile branch service in Halesworth, Bungay and Southwold, this is due to a mechanical problem.

“We are working hard to resolve the issue to prevent any further inconvenience to our customers.”

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