Armstrong left bitterly disappointed by bank closures

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said she is “bitterly disappointed” after Ulster Bank announced it would close nine of its local branches from October.

The move means the Ards Peninsula is left without any banking provision. The bank said it was due to the increase in usage of its digital banking services. Affected branches include Kircubbin, Bangor, Monkstown, Garvagh, Derry, and Newtownbreda, Antrim Road, Boucher Road and Woodstock Road in Belfast. It follows the recent closure of 15 First Trust branches throughout Northern Ireland.

“This announcement by Ulster Bank is bitterly disappointing and leaves the Ards Peninsula without any local branch banking provision,” she said.

“While the bank will explain it has considered mitigation factors, a non-digital option needs to be considered. I have already discussed with Ulster Bank, who have said a mobile on-wheels service for Kircubbin is “very likely” alongside the community banker service.

“As a local resident I know first-hand how the Peninsula suffers from a lack of internet signal. Many older people do not have a computer or access digital services via a smartphone. Given the sporadic and limited public transport, the removal of all other banks and post office from the area will leave a community bereft of services.

“Following discussion, Ulster Bank says they understand the need to give consideration to the needs of their customers, particularly the more rural-based ones. They cannot be left isolated. Alliance will be pushing to ensure non-digital services can be provided by Ulster Bank, so the effects of the closures can be mitigated as much as possible.”

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