HSBC shut its branch in Burnham-On-Sea for the final time this week as part of a nationwide cost-cutting move.
HSBC blamed a sharp 28 per cent reduction in customers at the branch for the “difficult decision” to shut it.
Plans to shut the branch in College Street were first reported by Burnham-On-Sea.com here last October.
Burnham’s MP James Heappey said the closure “is deeply disappointing” and he criticised the firm’s decision, advising customers to support other banks with branches in the town.
An HSBC spokesperson told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “We continually review our branch network to make sure our branches are in the right locations for our customers and we have a sustainable network for the future.”
“Over the past five years, we have seen footfall reduce by an average of 28% at our Burnham-On-Sea branch and based on this, we have made the difficult decision to close the branch.”
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we will work closely with those impacted, including customers, to help them understand their options.”
“With regard to the Burnham-On-Sea branch, we have advised our customers that there is an alternative branch in Bridgwater should customers wish to visit a branch and talk to a member of the HSBC team face-to-face.”
“That said, 93% of contact with the bank is now completed via the telephone, internet or smartphone, plus 97% of cash withdrawals are made via an ATM. As a result, most of our customers are already carrying out their daily banking needs without need of the branch itself.”
“In addition to mobile and internet banking, we have put in place a number of measures to help customers, including a partnership with the Post Office which has a branch a three minute walk from the Burnham-On-Sea HSBC branch.”
However, Burnham’s MP James Heappey told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “I am deeply disappointed that HSBC is closing its branches in Burnham-On-Sea and Shepton Mallet.”
“Whilst HSBC are offering opportunities for all affected staff in other branches, my first concern is with those whose jobs are affected.”
“HSBC argue that the branches are no longer viable as more and more customers are choosing to bank online.”
“But this is the same story as we’ve seen from HSBC and other banks in other towns across the Wells Constituency and across the country. Undoubtedly more and more people are willing and able to do their banking online but there is scant regard for those who cannot travel to other nearby branches, are unable to use the internet and for small businesses who need a nearby facility to bank their cash every day in order to remain within in the terms of their insurance policies. HSBC will offer the post offices in Burnham and Shepton as an alternative but Post Office are not able to offer a full range of services; especially for small businesses. They’re not able to do this because the banks won’t let them!”
“I strongly encourage both business and personal banking customers to switch their accounts to other banks in the towns. The banks look simply at the amount and value of business done in a branch and so the best way to guard against further closures is to make sure that remaining banks are rewarded with as much business as possible.”
He added: “It is hugely frustrating that yet more bank branches are closing and there is no escaping that for some in our community, there is no option other than banking in person, over the counter in a local bank. Until post offices are empowered to offer a full service in lieu of a bank and until cashless facilities are available to small businesses without significant transaction fees; it is disingenuous for our high street banks to claim that they can close branches without impact. I will continue to push them hard on these issues.”
Meanwhile, HSBC says that customers who have questions about the closure should contact the bank’s community communication team on Freephone 0800 243 364 or via HSBCcommunitycomms@grayling.com.