PLEAS are being made for the only bank in a busy shopping street to be protected from closure.
Lib Dem councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson has urged Lloyds Bank to not earmark the branch in Eastney Road, Portsmouth, for closure as part of its cutbacks.
It comes after Lloyds announced it will close 150 of its banks in the UK over the next three years and slash 9,000 jobs.
Fears have been raised that should Milton and Eastney’s only bank be taken away, shoppers and businesses would have to venture into Southsea or the city centre to find the next nearest one.
In a letter to António Horta-Osório, group chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘I am writing following the recent announcement that Lloyds Bank is looking to close down more branches in the UK.
‘I am also conscious that a local high street bank is crucial to keeping local shopping areas alive. I am concerned that the Lloyds Bank, in Milton, Portsmouth, is the last bank within our area which remains open.
‘It is a vital part of the shopping area of Milton market.
‘Could I ask for your assurance that this branch is not closed?’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson hopes Lloyds will ensure it agrees to calls being made by Vince Cable, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, to protect the last remaining branch in an area.
Stephen Dean, owner of nearby Bransbury Park Butchers, supported the action as the branch is well used and integral to the make-up of the area.
‘It’s part of our high street and the community hub,’ he said. ‘It’s always busy in there, every time you go over there’s someone using it.
‘It’s just another shop in the high street, and we don’t want to see another empty shop anywhere. We use the bank and if it went then I would have to go into Commercial Road just to get change, which would be nonsensical.
‘It’s not like we can join another bank in the area because it’s the only one.’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson and Lib Dem councillor Darren Sanders were today due to present a notice of motion before the full council urging group leaders to lobby the government for changes in the way business rates are calculated to ensure shops get a fairer deal. The News is running a campaign also calling for action to be taken.