A petition containing 400 signatures from Shildon residents has been presented by a local MP in the House of Commons. The Shildon branch of HSBC closed last week, and the petition calls on HSBC to reconsider their decision.
“I wish to present a petition from the people of Shildon against the closure of the HSBC bank in Shildon. HSBC are closing 60 branches across the country. They say they want to rebuild trust but they are abandoning 10,000 people without a bank and 800 local businesses.
“I am today writing to them to ask them to put £10,000 to extend the local credit union to provide at least some facilities for local people,” said the MP in the House of Commons last night.
The town could soon be left without 24 hour access to a cash machine when the Co-Operative store closes. There is a cash machine inside the neighbouring Morrisons supermarket, but which is only available when the store is open. Helen Goodman has written to Morrisons asking them if the machine can be moved outside, so that 24 hour access is still available.
Whilst a credit union could not be used for many normal banking facilities, it would provide an option to savers who have difficulty traveling to Bishop Auckland.
“A credit union is in no way a replacement for a bank account,” explains Helen Goodman. “The great thing about credit unions is that it gives people an alternative to loan sharks.”
A spokesman for HSBC said that the bank invests over £30m in updating and improving their branch network each year, but that on occasions a branch would need to close where footfall has fallen dramatically.
“Our in branch in Shildon, which closed last week, is a case in point. The branch was only open for very limited hours during the week and not at weekends. Customer usage of the branch had fallen very significantly over the past few years as our customers use other HSBC branches or the 24 hour convenience of ATMs, internet or telephone phone banking. Our network has to be ‘fit for purpose’ and we have to ensure that our branches are located in areas where they are actually used.”
“The decision to close the branch was not taken lightly and we have been working with the small number of customers who used the branch to help them re-organise their finances,” explained a spokesman to 105.9 Bishop FM.
The move follows Barclays Bank’s decision to leave Shildon, with customers already traveling to the nearest branch in Bishop Auckland. Bookmakers Chisholm made a planning application on the Barclays Bank building on Church Street in August.
From next Spring it will be possible for account holders to use local post office branches for banking services.
A reply to the petition is expected from the Treasury as to what they will do with it. The demonstration and petition have been covered by local newspapers and television, as well as The Guardian newspaper. A Facebook group against the closure was also set up.
Two members of staff who worked in the Shildon branch have been transferred to other branches in the area. HSBC also operates branches in Bishop Auckland and Darlington.