Strangford MP Jim Shannon MP has met with Dan McGinn and Terry Robb from Ulster Bank with Rowallene Councillors Billy Walker and Terry Andrews to discuss the proposed closure of Killyleagh Ulster Bank.
He said: “I began the meeting by stating that I found it difficult to see that the profit continues for the Ulster Bank shareholders and yet the service diminished for the user.
“I recently spoke in Westminster about the RBS and the Ulster Bank and spoke there about the problem with restructuring of services and branches. It has ‘restructured’ its loans—that is its way of describing what appear to be deliberate destabilising assaults on small businesses.
“How do we quantify compensation for lost opportunities? The fact is we cannot. Small businesses have gone under, drowning as they watch the UK Government bailing out bankers. I called for the return of the old-fashioned code of truth, honesty, fairness, common decency, integrity and transparency throughout the whole banking industry.
“And I called for the return of the bank manager who actually knows people, rather than glancing at an online profile. In this meeting with Ulster Bank I was calling out again for more for customers and local businesses and rather than simply closing the door as many banks have done with a too bad so sad attitude, Ulster Bank have at least determined to provide a level of service and whilst it cannot replace the local branch, there is no doubt that it is at least something to help those in the community to do their banking with an element of face to face contact.
“They are appointing a community banker who will be available to help on a one-on-one. There will also be the mobile bank in Killyleagh on one set day a week for face-to-face banking.
“After a question by Cllr Billy Walker, they have agreed to review the ATM decision and it is to be hoped that they will provide an ATM service. There are of course the options for online banking and video banking for those who are technically minded and they have made a commitment to making direct contact with farming communities and local businesses and will be following up with these.
“This is not the best for the community of Killyleagh and my meeting with Ulster bank did not change my mind in that aspect, but they have made the decision and there is no turning back and it is clear that we must attempt to secure the next best service for those in Killyleagh and the surrounding area.”
Councillor Walker added: “We met again yesterday with the bank officials and the Ulster Bank is not for turning. It is going to go ahead with its closure. We are very disappointed at this outcome.
“It seems that even the ATM will be going too. There is only one other ATM in Killyleagh and it is occasionally out of order. We have requested that they keep the ATM open in the town as not everyone is up to speed with online banking and the internet especially our older residents.
“This will have a knock on effect in the town to local shops possibly if cash is not available. It remains to be seen if they will finally review this situation.”
Councillor Terry Andrews also said: : “Modern technology has transformed the face of local banking and there are people here who will be losers in this. I’m concerned for the older generation who may just not all be computer savvy.
“I’m saddened at this development and disappointed that the people of Killyleagh who have used this bank for a lifetime will be left now without a full banking service.
“A couple of years ago we saw a similar situation in Crossgar when the branch there closed. Rural areas do need their services and this will no doubt be a very regretful development for Killyleagh and the surrounding area.”