THOUSANDS of customers will be left without a local bank as the Co-op has announced that it is to close its last Portsmouth branch.
The Co-operative Bank, in Commercial Road, Portsmouth will shut its doors on June 27, meaning the nearest branch will be in High Street, Chichester.
The news has prompted concern from customers and from Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond.
Mrs Drummond said: ‘I am concerned that several thousand customers will now not have a local branch, or will have the inconvenience of moving accounts to another bank. I’m also concerned for the staff whose jobs are at risk.
‘Many people find it difficult to use online or phone banking safely, especially older people and people with disabilities. Safe access to banking is a real issue. I am concerned that as the banks shrink their branch networks the potential for fraud increases, and banks must do more to help keep their customers safe.
‘I hope Co-op will reconsider their decision.’
Heather Lauder, director of banking at The Co-op Bank, said the closure was down to a lack of footfall.
She said: ‘These changes reflect the changing way that our customers choose to bank, as they increasingly undertake more of their transactions online or via contactless payments. The fall in the number of transactions made in the branches means it is simply no longer sustainable to keep them open.
‘Our branch network remains an integral part of our customer service offer. We are redesigning and modernising our branches as consumers look to use the branch for more complex advice at critical moments.
‘We are also investing in our digital offering.
‘We have sought to minimise the impact of these closures. We are writing to those affected to provide information about the alternative options available to them. Alongside online and mobile banking facilities, all closing branches are within three miles of a Post Office where customers can undertake transactions.’
She said that 10 branches – of which Portsmouth is one – will close in June, leaving a network of 95 branches in total.