Halifax using 'smoke and mirrors' to disguise closure of East Riding town's last remaining branch

Councillors have accused Halifax bank of trying to "disguise" the bad news that an East Riding town's last remaining branch is to close.

Hessle ward councillor David Nolan said it was using "smoke and mirrors” by saying it would set up a banking hub as it announced the branch of Halifax in The Square in Hessle will close next August.

The nearest alternative branch is four miles away in Hull city centre.

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Customers of any of the major banks can use hubs to deposit and withdraw cash over the counter.

Residents protesting outside the Hessle Halifax Branch. Councillor Simon Pickering is on the far right.Residents protesting outside the Hessle Halifax Branch. Councillor Simon Pickering is on the far right.
Residents protesting outside the Hessle Halifax Branch. Councillor Simon Pickering is on the far right.

Halifax has said a community banker will be sent once a week to provide "face-to-face" support.

Coun David Nolan uses the branch in Hessle and said he was "deeply unimpressed". The Lib Dem councillors are starting a petition.

He said: “ Halifax are using smoke and mirrors to disguise the closure as a positive by announcing a banking hub. Obviously we would welcome a banking hub when faced with the prospect of no banking facilities. But I would like to see a Halifax guarantee that we are going to get a banking hub. I suspect many of the shop-keepers and traders in Hessle who rely on banks for depositing cash and getting a change float will feel concern.

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"Halifax advertises saying: “At Halifax it’s a people thing.” We would like to see them “walk the talk” and put the banking hub in, before the branch closes.”

Halifax, the Bank of Scotland, and Lloyds, which are all part of the Lloyds Banking Group, announced 45 more closures last month.

Consumer group Which? estimates there will be just over 4,000 bank branches left across the country following this year’s losses, with 5,600 having shut since January 2015.

An email sent to councillors from Halifax said just shy of 300 people were using the Hessle branch on a "regular monthly basis” and customers were switching to online, mobile or telephone banking. They’d contact customers to explain alternative ways of banking. Hessle councillor Simon Pickering said many older residents had contacted him deeply concerned that they wouldn’t be able to continue looking after their finances.

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He said: "It’s part of the Great Hessle Bank Heist, we’ve seen over the years when profits are put before people. Shame on the Halifax and all the other banks including Barclays, Nat West, and Lloyds TSB, which have reaped their rewards and now leave the residents of Hessle with limited banking support.”

Halifax said if the hub wasn’t up and running by August 15, they’d keep the branch open until November 29 “to allow for a smooth transition of banking services”.

Petitions have started elsewhere in Yorkshire in a bid to stop closures. Neighbours Hazel Rowley and Alan Wright from Kirkthorpe have collected thousands of signatures outside the Halifax in Normanton, Wakefield, which is also set to close next year.

Meanwhile Barclays was due to close its Whitby branch last Friday, leaving just ten banks and building society branches open across Scarborough and Whitby.

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