MP slams Lloyds over Ponteland bank branch closure

The Lloyds Bank Ponteland branch. Picture from Google.The Lloyds Bank Ponteland branch. Picture from Google.
The Lloyds Bank Ponteland branch. Picture from Google.
Lloyds Banking Group has been urged to think again by Ponteland’s MP following its latest branch closure plans.

Guy Opperman has slammed the announcement that it will shut 41 Lloyds Bank and seven Halifax branches across England and Wales between January and April 2022, including the one in Ponteland that is in his Hexham constituency.

The news follows a spate of bank branch closures in rural areas over the last few years such as the Barclays branch in Ponteland in 2019.

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When the Lloyds branch is closed on February 8, 2022, that will just leave the Newcastle Building Society facility on Broadway, Darras Hall, as the one remaining branch for the Ponteland area. Lloyds does advise customers that they can “continue to bank locally by visiting the nearby Post Office”.

Mr Opperman said: “I urge Lloyds to urgently rethink their position. Access to cash and an in-person counter are vital services to residents who may not be able to access online banking services.

“The Ponteland branch serves many of the surrounding villages, meaning it will hit another one of the rural communities in my constituency very hard.

“Clearly, footfall in branches has reduced since the advent of the (Covid-19) pandemic. However, in-person banking services continue to be vital – we must save this branch.”

The announcement has been criticised by the Unite union.

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Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “This is a complete betrayal of the communities and staff who have long supported this highly profitable business.

“This sector needs to start taking their corporate social responsibilities seriously and stop neglecting their obligations to their customers and workforce.”

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.

A Lloyds Banking Group spokesman said: “We have made the decision to close the Ponteland branch on February 8, 2022, due to the changing ways customers choose to bank with us, which means the branch is being used less often.

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

The closure will leave the Ponteland Village area with two outdoor cash machines – outside the One Stop and Sainsbury’s stores.