Politicians united in criticism of closure of Killyleagh bank

Politicians united in criticism of closure of Killyleagh bank

THE Ulster Bank has been urged to reconsider its decision to close the High Street branch in Killyleagh.

Local politicians have expressed concern about the decision to close the branch next May, highlighting the impact the move will have on elderly people, the vulnerable, residents and the Killyleagh business community.

There was across-the-board political support for a motion tabled at Newry, Mourne and Down Council’s monthly meeting on Monday night urging bank officials to reconsider. The motion was tabled by Rowallane councillors Terry Andrews and Billy Walker.

Councillor Andrews said the Killyleagh branch is one of eight across the Province which Ulster Bank is closing. He said there is concern about the detrimental impact the closure will have across the community and pointed out that over recent years, a number of High Street banks have closed branches in a number of local towns and villages.

“It has been a fashionable trend over recent years to close banks, particularly those which are at the heart of communities in small towns and provide key services to a wide range of people. Residents who do not have access to mobile banking will be hardest hit by this decision, while others will have to make their way to other branches for one-to-one contact with staff,” he said.

“Customers who would have used the Ulster Bank in Killyleagh would also have visited other businesses and spent money in the town so this decision will have a major impact,” he added.

Councillor Stephen Burns said once again a large bank has decided to close a branch in the district which will impact on many people, not least the elderly.

“Sadly, we have been here before,” he continued. “Other branches have closed and as banks are commercial businesses they will make decisions which are not right for the people of this district, but based on their balance sheets which is unfortunate. The Ulster Bank does not seem to have any moral consideration for the fact that it and the RBS Group was bailed out by the taxpayer to the tune of £45bn. Yet, it treats people in rural communities with disdain.”

Councillor Burns called for a council delegation to meet with Ulster Bank representatives to see how cash dispensing and cash deposits will be facilitated when the branch closes.

He added: “While we will ask for a meeting and put all the points to bank officials, I fear that at the end of the day it will be water off a duck’s back. I fear officials will smile and tell us what they will do and then promptly ignore us.”

Councillor Harry Harvey described the closure of the Killyleagh branch as a “total disgrace” and said elderly and disabled folk will feel the impact most, while Councillor David Taylor, speaking on behalf of Rowallane’s Robert Burgess, also condemned the closure of the High Street branch.

He added: “There seems to be a determination within the banking system to remove themselves from providing frontline services. They view what they are doing as cost savings and are not worried about what the customers think.”

Councillor Gareth Sharvin suggested that rather than closing branches, banks should consider limited opening hours, while Councillor Patrick Brown said High Street banks in areas like Killyleagh are at the heart of the local economy and that when they close the move has a knock-on effect.