Councillors in Hillsborough have said they are concerned and saddened by the Ulster Bank to close its branch in the village.
This week the Ulster Bank confirmed it would be closing the Hillsborough branch, along with the branches in Finaghy, Newtownabbey, Lombard Street and Lisburn Road in Belfast, by November.
A spokesperson for the Ulster Bank said that no jobs would be lost as a result of the closures. “Ulster Bank confirms that Hillsborough branch is closing by November 2014, with customers being transferred to Lisburn branch,” he said. “We will also be writing directly to customers of that branch in the coming weeks to inform them of alternative branch locations in their area and the range of banking services available on their mobiles, online and via telephone.
“We will also be extending the services available via Post Offices later this year to include cash and cheque deposits. There will be no additional job losses as a result of this announcement. We continue to communicate directly with our staff and other key stakeholders on these matters.”
However, Councillor Alexander Redpath has said he was disappointed the bank had taken this decision and that the branch closure will be a blow for the village. “Many local businesses in Hillsborough rely on their local branch and this is going to make it more difficult to carry out their business,” said Mr Redpath. “There will also be an impact on personal customers, especially the elderly, who will have to travel further to access banking services.
“I am glad that there should be no compulsory redundancies as a result of the move but I am disappointed that the announcement seems to have pre-empted negotiations with unions over the impact of the relocation of staff. These staff are going to have their lives seriously impacted with major changes to their working conditions and commute. I am also disappointed that staff will now not be in the village using services and providing business for local traders.
Councillor Stephen Martin added: “This time last year saw the closure of their branch on Longstone Street. The withdrawal of services really did have an immediate and harsh impact on local traders in particular. A repeat experience cannot be allowed to occur in Hillsborough.”
Alderman Allan Ewart, Chairman of Lisburn City Council’s Economic Development Committee, has voiced his disappointment. “I am saddened that the long-standing Hillsborough village Ulster Bank is closing as it provides a service for people who either don’t drive, cannot drive or who find the bank very convenient. There are many senior citizens living in the village and the bank provides an important community service.”