MP Jonathan Reynolds has written to Santander to urge the bank to reconsider its decision to close its Hyde branch in July.
The bank informed the decision has been made following a ‘comprehensive internal review’ and taking into consideration the changing way in which customers bank.
Mr Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, retorted: “I am bitterly disappointed by this decision from Santander to close their Hyde branch.
“I have written to them begging them to reconsider, although I fear their minds are already made up.
“An internal review is not enough. High street banks are crucial to local economies and should be legally required to consult with communities before making damaging decisions like this. Hyde deserves better than this.
And in a letter to Santander, Mr Reynolds added: “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.
“I note that you say that you can help customers to set up online, mobile and telephone banking, but this is simply not possible for some of your customers for varying reasons ranging from being unable to afford the required devices to not being comfortable with the technology.
“I am concerned that an internal review of usage statistics will never be able to consider the needs of a small, but significant, minority who do not have a choice to switch to other means of banking.
“Many such constituents tell me that they like the reassurance and familiarity of going into their local bank and dealing face to face with familiar people 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 or 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.
“I would urge you in the strongest terms possible to reconsider this decision or investigate the potential of alternatives such as reduced opening hours or visits on an appointment-only basis, or face-to-face banking services from a mobile unit on a regular basis in Hyde town centre?
In a letter to Mr Reynolds, Adam Bishop, head of branch interaction at Santander, wrote about taking the “difficult decision” to close the branch at 11 Market Street, Hyde, on July 15.
Mr Bishop said: “This closure follows a comprehensive internal review, taking into consideration the changing nature of the way in which our customers bank with us and the alternative options available to bank locally.
“I realise this will be disappointing to some of your constituents, which is why I wanted to explain our decision in detail.
“As you will appreciate, we regularly review our branch network in order to ensure that we are providing the right services to our customers, whilst maintaining an appropriately sized and cost-efficient estate.
“Over the past few years, we have seen our customers continue to change the way they manage their money. As well as using our branches, many more of our customers find it convenient to do their day-to-day banking using online, mobile or telephone banking.
“As a result, customers are visiting our branches much less, with branch transactions falling by 33 per cent in the two years before the pandemic. As a result of these changes, we are announcing we will be closing a number of branches.
“When taking this decision, our focus has been on consolidating our network in areas where we have multiple branches relatively close together, allowing us to retain branches in more remote communities and continue to provide broad coverage across the whole of the UK.
“Branches continue to play an important role in providing banking services and this closure programme is designed to minimise the disruption faced by our customers. All closing branches are within half a mile of at least two free-to-use ATMs and one mile of the nearest Post Office.”
Mr Bishop added the nearest Santander branch will be three-and-a-half miles away in Ashton.
Having carried out an impact assessment of the closure of this branch, he said they found 86 per cent of customers who use the Hyde branch, either at the counter or the cash machines, are also using additional ways to complete their banking –37 per cent at another Santander branch and 67 per cent through online, mobile or telephone banking.
The impact assessment can be found online: www.santander.co.uk/personal/support/ways-to-bank/our-branches
Santander added they will also be contacting customers individually by phone to understand their particular needs and offer additional support and assistance. This includes our more elderly or potentially vulnerable customers and those who use the closing branch more frequently.
They will also be holding a series of online events available to customers throughout April and May to help with alternative ways of banking including digital banking and scam avoidance.