Banks '˜should provide a local presence' - Beggs
Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs has met with Danske Bank officials following an announcement that the Larne branch is to close.
The East Antrim representative also sought reassurances on the future of the Carrickfergus branch.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Beggs said: “Danske Bank officials that I met were forthright in advising that the Larne branch was closing as the level of footfall and business had resulted in the branch not being sustainable. They indicated that branches were under pressure as a result of the increasing use of online banking, and infrequent visits by customers. Danske Bank was instead investing in online and mobile banking to meet the needs of customers of the future. They also indicated the high cost of an under utilized large town centre sites and the high level of competition from other banks/building societies locally.
“Danske Bank customers like myself will have to assess the level of support that can be provided with the nearest branch more than 10 miles away from Larne and we may ultimately vote with our feet. Banks may need a message from customers so that they understand the importance of providing a local presence. I was also disappointed that customers’ accounts were not being transferred to the adjacent Carrickfergus or Ballyclare branches but to the ‘flagship’ Ballymena branch 20 miles away."
With fewer customers visiting town centre banks, Mr Beggs also asked how Danske Bank proposed to improve the long term sustainability of the Carrickfergus branch.
"Officials acknowledged in some towns that they had reduced costs and continued to provide a presence by downsizing their premises, and that another option was examining transferring banking roles from Belfast city centre to the surplus space that existed in the large Carrickfergus premises," he added.
Responding, a Danske Bank spokesperson said: “It is important to note that after October 12, 2018, Larne branch customers can use any Danske Bank branch across Northern Ireland as their own, including Carrickfergus and Ballyclare. Real-time banking means customers are free to choose; where an account rests for administrative purposes does not impact this.
"We believe we can continue to meet our customers’ banking needs through a wide range of existing banking options and services, including the Post Office and our locally based Contact Centre which provides a range of support services. We would encourage any customers with concerns to call into the branch and speak to our team.”