Urgent meeting over Larne bank closure ‘shock’

Larne Main Street is to lose its Danske Bank.
Larne Main Street is to lose its Danske Bank.

Danske Bank has been urged to re-think the “shock” decision to axe its Larne branch.

The Main Street premises are earmarked for closure on October 12 this year due to what the bank says are changing patterns of use.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with management of the company this Thursday, East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs said: “The Danske Bank (formally Northern Bank) has been a core part of Larne’s financial institutions for many decades. I am shocked to learn that it has now been earmarked for closure.

“With recent reports of increased profits at Danske Bank, I fail to understand this decision which will adversely affect customers and have already arranged an urgent meeting with the bank questioning this decision and asking them to reconsider.”

Commenting on the decision, which will also see the Ballynahinch branch shut on the same date, Richard Caldwell, Danske Bank’s managing director of Personal Banking & Small Business, said: “The way customers use branches has changed significantly in recent years. Many are now choosing to use different ways to bank, such as digital or telephone banking. As a business, we must respond to these changes, therefore priorities for investment will adapt and change.

“We do not take decisions to close branches lightly and I have written to our Larne branch customers to assure them that we remain committed to continuing to meet their banking needs and to inform them about the many different ways to bank with us.”

The bank, which says it has continued to invest in both digital channels and day-to-day banking services, is keeping an ATM service in Larne.

Meanwhile, East Antrim Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has also criticised the closure announcement.

He said: “I must express my severe disappointment at Danske’s decision. I believe that by closing this branch, they make it more difficult for particularly vulnerable people to access banking services without having the expense of travelling.

“An ATM machine and online banking is not a replacement for in-person banking support on-site. Many older people, do not use online banking services, and many do not even have internet access at home.”