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Concern as Halifax announces plan to close Newry branch

Closures 'damaging to small towns and communities'

Buttercrane

The announcement that Halifax is to close its Newry branch on November 8 is a matter of “deep concern”,  a Sinn Féin MLA has said.

Liz Kimmins, who represents Newry and Armagh, said today’s news would have a “devastating impact” on older and vulnerable customers as well as local businesses.

The nearest branch for customers will be at High Street in Portadown or Market Street in Lurgan.

Its branches in Keady and Armagh have already closed.

On its website, the Halifax said the number of customers using the branch at Buttercrane Shopping Centre has fallen by 54 per cent in the last five years, with cash machine transactions down by 50 per cent.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: “Visits to our Newry branch have fallen over recent years, as many customers now choose to bank in different ways. 

“When the branch closes in November, customers can continue to bank with us at the Post Office on Hill Street and can access cash at a number of free ATMs nearby.

“We’re contacting customers to let them know about the alternate local banking services available.”

However, Ms Kimmons said the announcement of the closure “comes on the bank of a swathe of branch closures which is eroding the availability of banking services in small towns and rural areas across the north”.

She said: “This has devastating impact on older and more vulnerable customers as well as small local businesses who rely on face-to-face services.

“The future of banking services needs to be designed with community engagement. This was highlighted in the recent report of the Banking Roundtable convened by Finance Minister Conor Murphy.

“Sinn Féin will continue to challenge the rationale for these closures and the loss of services which is damaging to the small towns and the communities they serve.”

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