Battle to save bank branch

A petition has been launched urging Lloyds to think again over plans to shut its branch in Ponteland.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 4:21 pm
The Lloyds Bank Ponteland branch. Picture from Google.

‘Stop the Closure’, which was set up on the change.org website by Ponteland resident Christine Caisley last weekend, has already been signed by more than 300 people.

If the branch in Main Street closes on February 8 as planned, there will be no banks left open in Ponteland Village. The Newcastle Building Society facility on Broadway, Darras Hall, would be the one remaining branch for the Ponteland area.

Local MP Guy Opperman is supporting Christine’s call for Lloyds to reconsider its decision. He has previously supported successful pilots of banking hubs to ensure access to cash and banking facilities for elderly and vulnerable people.

The petition includes the following statement: “Our advice to Lloyds is to come up with a real practical solution.

"A solution that will mean Ponteland residents and local businesses have access to a physical banking presence.

“A solution that will keep a physical banking presence which safeguards access to cash.

“Our older and more vulnerable community members need a friendly face who can help them avoid scams and fraud. Our children benefit from seeing a bank and learning to keep savings.”

Christine said: “I have to do this as a concerned resident, who is shocked that Lloyds are prepared to close this only remaining bank in Ponteland.

“Lloyds say ‘By your side’ in their advertisement slogan – that's a joke.”

In total, Lloyds plans to close 41 of its banks and seven Halifax branches across England and Wales by April 2022.

This follows a recent spate of bank branch closures in rural areas, where access to cash and banking facilities are vital for residents.

Mr Opperman said: “I was completely taken aback when I received news of Lloyds’ unilateral decision to close their Ponteland branch.

“The horse has bolted! Lloyds is the last branch in Ponteland Village and I am extremely disappointed that they haven’t been able to come up with an alternative option that would safeguard access to cash and retain physical banking in the community.

“I will continue to fight for access to branch banking facilities for our rural communities. Please support Christine’s petition – we must save this branch.”

According to Lloyds, 78 per cent of its personal customers in Ponteland already use other branches and other ways to bank, such as online and telephone banking.

When the plans were announced last month, a Lloyds spokesman said: “We have made the decision to close the Ponteland branch due to the changing ways customers choose to bank with us, which means the branch is being used less often.

“Customers can continue to bank locally by visiting the nearby Post Office, which is less than half a mile away. The nearest alternative branch is in Newburn.”

The closure would leave the Ponteland Village area with two outdoor cash machines – one outside One Stop and another at Sainsbury’s.

Residents can add their name to Christine’s petition at https://chng.it/6rVqsVjm