Building society to axe branch in town

The Skipton Building Society on Birley Street
The Skipton Building Society on Birley Street

A building society today announced its branch in Blackpool town centre is to close.

Skipton Building Society claim the decision to shut the Birley Street outlet is due to more customers doing their business online.

Andrew Bottomley

Andrew Bottomley

The move is the latest in closure plans by financial companies which has seen banks announce branch shutdowns all over the Fylde, including HSBC on the same street.

Campaigners claim the closures will have the hardest effect on older customers who are not used to internet banking.

The last day of business at Birley Street is expected to be September 22.

Andrew Bottomley, Skipton’s director of distribution and financial advice, said: “It is with great regret we have made the decision to close this branch.

We cannot use members’ money to keep it open

“We’ve been so proud to serve our customers in person in Blackpool and have held off for as long as we can before having to close this branch, which will be the first time Skipton has closed a branch in several years.

“But fewer people are using the branch in spite of the best efforts of our team there.

“This branch has seen a significant reduction in the number of people visiting it over the past two years. In comparision, over the same period, our online customer base has increased by 65 per cent and activity in our custmer contact centre has increased by more than 10,00 inquiries.”

Already this year Lloyds Bank has announced plans to axe its branch on the resort’s Whitegate Drive.

And in addition to HSBC on Birley Street, Yorkshire Bank revealed it is to close its branch in Cleveleys on Crescent East.

Last year Natwest announced that branches in Poulton, Fleetwood, Kirkham and Lytham will close. HSBC also revealed it will shut its branch in Clifton Street, Lytham.

Coun Andrea Kay, who represents Cleveleys, ssaid: “Banks are moving more and more towards this model. “

“The elderly are the worst affected by this.

“They might not have access to transport or to the internet.”

Skipton say efforts will be made to find work for the five staff at Birley Street at neighbouring branches in Cleveleys and St Annes.

Mr Bottomley added: “We cannot use our members’ money to keep a branch open that is economically unsustainable due to insufficient community use.

“Instead we will reinvest the money we save from closing the branch and plough it back into our customer contact points.

“Our focus now is to do everything we can to support our team members affected by this news.”