First Trust closing Warrenpoint branch
Tuesday, 28 February 2017
SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie has voiced her opposition to the announced closure of First Trust's Warrenpoint branch, branding it unacceptable.
Ms Ritchie cited the impact that the proposed closure on June 30, would have on the local community and has sought a consultation meeting with senior bank officials to discuss its future.
She stated that the proposed closure of 15 branches would leave many customers having to seek alternative high street banking.
"I am extremely concerned about the announcement by First Trust Bank to close their Downpatrick and Warrenpoint branches in the summer 2017," she said.
"These branches are important local services and if the closures go ahead many customers will seek to find an alternative bank."
Urging the bank to reconsider the branch closures, the South Down MP said: "First Trust Bank planning to close 15 branches in Northern Ireland is not acceptable. The closures will be a significant loss to the high street, and will impact on local traders and customers who prefer to seek financial advice face-to-face.
"First Trust Bank need to take the concerns of residents into account and immediately reconsider the closure of these branches."
Ms Ritchie also questioned if overall company profits percolated down to branch investment, and said: "Allied Irish Bank Ltd - the parent bank for First Trust Bank made a handsome profit last year - was any of that profit re-invested in the branch structures and if not why not?
"Banks make an important contribution to the local economy and town centre regeneration as well as sustaining local jobs."
Head of First Trust Bank, Des Moore attributed the closures to changes in customers banking habits, and said that major reduction in branch footfall in recent years justified the measures.
He said: "Due to changing customer behaviours and trends and in particular the sizable shift from branch usage towards digital banking, First Trust Bank has undertaken an 18-month strategic review to plan how we best serve the needs of customers now and in the future.
“Since 2010 we have seen almost a 40% decline in branch usage coupled with a 117% increase in mobile transactions over the past two years and we have had to make the difficult decision to close a number of branches. We will be working hard to minimise the impact on the customers and staff concerned."
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