Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has requested a meeting with senior management of Ulster Bank to discuss its plans to close its branches in Moira and Dromore.
The two local branches are among 11 across Northern Ireland that are due to close in May and June next year. (Read full story - Ulster Bank to shut local branches)
Reacting to the bank’s announcement, Mr Donaldson said he was “deeply disappointed” and voiced concerns about the likely impact of the closures on Moira and Dromore.
“These branches have served the local communities in Dromore and Moira for many years and this represents yet another loss of banking services at the heart of our towns and villages,” he commented.
“Whilst I recognise that banking trends are changing and many people now bank online, we have an increasingly elderly population, many of whom do not use online banking and prefer to deal face to face with bank officials in a local branch.
“With these proposed closures, it means that local people in Dromore will now have to travel to Banbridge to do their banking, and people in Moira will have to travel to Lurgan. Clearly, this will cause considerable inconvenience for many local residents, including senior citizens who have to rely on public transport.”
Stressing that he hopes to hold talks with Ulster Bank officials in the coming days, the DUP man continued: “I intend meeting with the senior management of Ulster Bank to discuss the proposed closure of these local branches and will be sharing the concerns of local people about the impact this will have on our economy and on accessibility to banking services, especially for some of our more elderly and vulnerable residents.
“I will be joined at the meeting with Ulster Bank by my local council colleagues Paul Rankin representing the Dromore area and Allan Ewart representing the Moira area. I will also be raising with the bank the consequences of these branch closures for staff employed by Ulster Bank, including some who live locally.”
Speaking about the proposed Dromore branch closure, Alderman Rankin said: “This is yet another blow for Dromore town centre and will leave the town with no local bank branches available to serve the needs of the community.
“Whilst there will of course still be access to banking through local ATM cash machines and the Post Office, this is not an adequate replacement for a local bank branch. I will be putting these issues directly to Ulster Bank when we meet with their senior management.”
Meanwhile, the Consumer Council is encouraging Ulster Bank customers affected by the closures to contact their bank directly to ensure that their alternative services will meet their needs.
“If not, we would advise consumers to review their bank account and check it provides the best overall deal and service. The Consumer Council’s website (www.consumercouncil.org.uk) provides guides on bank closures and switching bank accounts, and comparison tools to help consumers ensure they are receiving the best deal for their current account. Alternatively customers can call us on 0800 121 6022,” said John French, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council.