Bank challenged on Tandragee branch closure

Tandragee advertising feature. General street.   INPT4814-426

Tandragee advertising feature. General street. INPT4814-426

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The Ulster Bank has been challenged to provide evidence on how it reached its decision to close the Tandragee branch.

Councillor Paul Berry also urged the bank to have a ‘rethink’ and said he will continue to lobby to have the ATM retained.

The bank announced last month that it is to close the branch in February, provoking a local outcry.

Tandragee lost its Northern Bank branch in 2012 and the closure of the Ulster Bank branch will leave the town without a bank.

In an initial letter of complaint from Mr Berry, he asked the chief executive to provide clarification on how they reached their decision.

The bank said they looked at factors such as the proximity of other branches, customer numbers, footfall and the number of transactions.

However, Mr Berry said there is no breakdown or indication of how Tandragee scored in all these areas. He said, “It seems clear to me that they have looked at the map and decided that Tandragee is close to a larger bank in Portadown so just sacrifice the rural bank which is a disgrace on their behalf.

“I have contacted Mrs Sloan (senior complaints consultant) and expressed my view in the strongest terms that faceless people in the Belfast office have shown total disrespect for the community and customers of the area.”

He has also written again to Stephen Cruise, head of branch banking, to once again seek clarification on how they reached their decision and request a rethink on the whole matter.

“I feel it is important that theses faceless people in Ulster Bank headquarters needs to be challenged given the real inconvenience such decisions have on our community and rural towns,” he added.

As regards the ATM, the bank said it is always willing to explore how ATM services can be retained.

A senior complaints consultant said, “For the ATM to be retained at the existing site, it would require the consent of whoever acquires the site. Alternatively, if a local retailer wishes to house an ATM, we are always willing to discuss that possibility with them.”

Mr Berry said that if the branch does close, he will be asking that the ATM is retained at the same site until a buyer is found, after which a long-term site can be explored.

He also pointed out that of the three other cashpoints in the town, two are inside stores meaning they are only accessible during opening hours.

He added, “I have spoken to many customers such as businesses, churches, community groups and elderly folk and such an important matter should not go down without a fight.”