THE decision by the Co-operative Bank to close its only branch in Tameside has been opposed by the borough’s three MPs.
Angela Rayner, Jonathan Reynolds and Andrew Gwynne have written to the bank collectively to ask it to reconsider its decision to shut the bank in Ashton.
Mrs Rayner, writing on behalf of all three MPs, said: “Your branch in Warrington Street is the only Co-operative Bank branch across the whole of Tameside and my constituents speak very highly of the level of service they receive there.
“I understand that there are times when difficult decisions must be made, but I believe this closure would have a severe impact on some of our most vulnerable constituents.
“You say that you have seen a continuing shift in people opting to do their banking online, but this is simply not possible for some of your customers for varying reasons ranging from being unable to afford internet access to not being computer savvy.
“The majority of constituents that have contacted myself, Andrew Gwynne and Jonathan Reynolds are elderly people who are extremely uncomfortable at this thought.
“They like the reassurance and familiarity of going into their local bank and dealing with human beings when it comes to something as important as their finances.“They have built up a relationship of trust with your employees and this gives them a sense of security that can’t be achieved with online/mobile banking.
“I welcome the fact that you have written to your regular customers to advise them of their alternative options and I understand that this is not a decision that you will have taken lightly, but it still gives me a great deal of cause for concern.
“The fact that people now have a myriad of ways in which they can do their banking is to be celebrated, but it should not come at the detriment of those that feel they cannot use those alternative methods.
“Surely a full closure of the Warrington Street branch is not the only option? Have you investigated the potential of alternatives such as reduced opening hours or visits on an appointment only basis to allow for a reduced level of staff?
“Would it be possible to provide face to face banking services from a mobile unit on a weekly or even a fortnightly basis in the centre of Ashton?”