Bid to stop closure of Haslemere's last bank

The closure will leave Haslemere without a bank and ATM ()

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COUNCILLORS have rallied together in a bid to stop the closure of Haslemere’s Lloyds Bank branch.

As reported in last week’s Herald, the banking firm had confirmed the closure of 29 branches – including the site on High Street – citing the drop in branch transactions.

The closing date for the branch is set for November 2, and will leave the town without a bank or ATM.

And Haslemere councillor Robert Knowles has said the closure of the Lloyds Bank branch will be the “death of Haslemere”.

Borough councillor for Haslemere East and Grayswood and former leader of Waverley, Cllr Knowles said the loss was “hard to understand”.

“Access to cash is important to elderly people and being cut off from banking facilities and cash is difficult for many and will cause concern. Lloyds quite obviously are not interested in a service to their customers,” he said.

Cllr Knowles confirmed he was a customer at the branch, and was told his account had been “transferred to Petersfield – not Godalming or Liphook despite them being closer”.

He said: “Lloyds claim just 161 people a month use the branch – but whenever I visit I’m frequently about eighth in the queue.”

He confirmed he is “encouraging all my constituents to close their accounts, as will I.”

“I remember when Haslemere had six banks in the 1970s – now there are none,” he said.

“There is also now no ATM in the town centre – only at the station, a 20 minute walk away. That will hit retailers and tourists.”

Cllr Knowles said he had put a question into Waverley, in the agenda for the next full council meeting.

In a message to residents, Haslemere Town Council confirmed many residents had contacted it to express concerns. The council also confirmed that town mayor, Cllr Simon Dear, had written to the chief executive of Lloyds Bank to “ask them to rethink the closure”, as well as contacting the CEO of Link – an ATM provider – to ask for “an urgent site visit to explore alternative locations for a cashpoint”.

South West Surrey MP, Jeremy Hunt, also confirmed he had written to Patrick Leavy, group public affairs manager at Lloyds Banking Group to “enquire about the reasoning behind the closure, when it is closing and why it was not announced to Haslemere residents in the first instance”.

When asked about the closure and alternative options, a Lloyds Bank spokesperson said: “We have made the decision to close Haslemere on November 2 because of the changing ways customers choose to bank with us, which means the branch is being used less often.

“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 Liphook.”

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