Bye bye to High Street’s HSBC

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Garstang’s High Street was dealt a blow this week as customers learned that the HSBC bank is to close.

The branch, a victim of the increase in online and telephone banking, will shut on Friday, November 28, and a notice inside the bank invites customers to make appointments “for advice on alternative ways of banking with us or help on a specific issue.”

Branch staff will be redeployed and items held in safekeeping will be transferred, along with accounts, to the 49A Fishergate, Preston, branch of HSBC.

Letters have been sent to customers noting: “We are constantly evolving and developing our services. And with the growth of telephone and internet banking in recent years, this has naturally resulted in some branches being used less often.

“Therefore after careful consideration we have taken the difficult decision to close our branch at 56, High Street, Garstang.”

The bank is a landmark building on the market town’s High Street.

The letter advised customers that the nearest HSBC branches are at 286 Garstang Road, Fulwood and 35, Market Street, Lancaster. The letter noted it would also be possible to pay in cash or cheques, withdraw money and check your balance at the Post Office at 39, High Street.

One angry customer said: “It’s very sad. I have always thought it was a busy branch. My husband is a self-employed businessman and I use the bank regularly to pay in customers’ cheques.

“I don’t think they are valuing the smaller customer. The town is at the heart of a rural community and many people do not want to do internet banking – I would rather be served by a person!”

The bank will close to customers at 2.30pm on Friday November 28. But customers will not be able to access any items held for safe-keeping from Friday November 21 to Friday November 28.

A statement issued by the HSBC Communications office said: “In common with other high street banks, footfall in our branches has fallen dramatically and is accelerating. We have seen a 30 per cent reduction in customer footfall over the last four years. It is never a decision we take lightly, but on occasions this has meant we have needed to close a branch and our Garstang branch is a case in point.

“Decisions like this are never easy, but we worked with the small number of customers who use the branch to help them reorganise their finances ahead of the closures.”

It added customers could access other banking facilities in the town and there were several “fee free” cash dispensers within the local area.