Santander Closure Petition

Nearly 400 people in Helensburgh signed a newly launched Parliamentary petition in its first two hours, with local SNP activists taking to the streets on Saturday morning with local MP Brendan O’Hara.

Immediatelyfollowing news of the of the closure of the branch, the second bank to close in the town in the past four years, Brendan O’Hara wrote to both Santander and the Post Office to ascertain the likely impact on the town.

As at the 4th February, the Post Office had indicated to Mr O’Hara that Santander wouldn’t divulge customer numbers, saying ‘is exceptionally difficult to model the impact…on any given branch without having information on numbers and amount of cash withdrawals’[1].  Santander’s responded by referring to the ‘Access to Banking Standard’ and promised to let him have sight of their second impact assessment as soon as it was published.[2]

Speaking in a debate at Westminster last Thursday, the local MP said:

To justify the closure of its branch in Helensburgh, Santander’s review said that 59% of its customers have used online banking, mobile banking or telephone banking, which means, by its own calculation, 41% of its customers have not”.[3]

Commenting on Saturday, the local MP said:

After speaking to scores of people on Saturday morning, I am in no doubt at the strength of feeling in the town.  We will continue to campaign with this petition and if anyone would like to sign their name, calling on Santander to reverse their decision, they can call into my office on Colquhoun Square and add their names to a growing list

Time and again, banks close their doors on the high street and expect the Post Office to simply pick up the slack.”

This is just the latest round of bank closures to hit communities across Scotland, coming at a time when many communities are being left cashless through the removal of hundreds of local ATMs[4]

A few weeks ago, one local Post Office in Argyll and Bute actually ran out of money”. 

Online banking and Post Offices are not adequate replacements for Santander’s most vulnerable customers. They do not provide the full range of day-to-day services that a local bank branch offers for businesses, customers, and those that depend on much-valued local employment.

The UK government must step in and act. It can no longer argue that it cannot intervene.”

The UK government has an important role to play, and it is disappointing and telling that the Secretary of State for Scotland has snubbed offers of cross-party talks to find a solution that protects local jobs, local communities and small local businesses.”


Sources:

[1]  Hansard, 14th February 2019, http://bit.ly/2UZdkWm

[1]  Santander Response attached and undernoted.

[1]  Hansard , 14th February 2019, http://bit.ly/2SLbvQ4

[1] “Scots battle to get cash” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-47199311

Response to Brendan O’Hara MP from Santander:

24 January 2018

Dear Mr O’Hara,

Thank you for your letter in reply to the notice that Santander is intending to close its branch in Helensburgh.

I appreciate that the decision to close the branch will be disappointing for some customers. I can assure you that the branch team will be actively supporting customers that use the branch regularly to ensure they have alternative ways to bank with us after the branch closes.

We are working closely with the Post Office’s Operational team to ensure that Post Offices close to our closing branches are informed and supported during the transition. Whilst I understand that some customers have concerns over using the Post Office for their day to day banking, we have full confidence in the Post Office’s ability to fulfil this role. Indeed, expanding its banking capabilities is a key part of the Post Office’s business plan, with the increased revenues helping to support and maintain its national network of 11,500 branches.

Under the Access to Banking Standard, which governs the way in which banks close branches, banks communicate their decisions in two parts to customers. The first, the initial announcement of closure, must take place at least 12 weeks before the closure date and be accompanied by an Impact Assessment. We welcome feedback from our customers during this time. We will publish a second Impact Assessment at least two weeks before the closure date which will set out any concerns that have been raised by customers and provide advice on any specific issues or concerns that may have been raised. Any customers that have concerns over this closure should contact us so that we may ensure they are fully supported during this process.

Alongside the initial Impact Assessment that I provided on Wednesday, I will provide you with a copy of the second Impact Assessment as soon as we publish it. In the meantime, if you have any further concerns please do let me know.

Yours sincerely,

Adam Bishop

Head of Branch Interactions

[1]  Hansard, 14th February 2019, http://bit.ly/2UZdkWm

[2]  Santander Response attached and undernoted.

[3]  Hansard , 14th February 2019, http://bit.ly/2SLbvQ4

[4] “Scots battle to get cash” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-47199311

response Santander
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