Residents lament ‘backward step’ as last banking branch to pull out

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Highcliffe Nationwide
The Nationwide branch in Lymington Road, Highcliffe, is closing in January 2020

HIGHCLIFFE is to lose its last banking branch after the Nationwide Building Society announced it is pulling out of the village.

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The office, in Lymington Road, is set to close in January, along with several others in Dorset, despite promises by the organisation that it would maintain all its branches until May 2021.

A Nationwide spokesperson told the A&T: “The way people use branches is changing, and from time to time we have to make difficult, but carefully considered decisions.

“In this instance, given the very high number of branches in this area, we are closing our Boscombe, Canford Cliffs, Highcliffe and West Moors branches, where transactions have declined by up to 22%.

“We’ll still have 11 branches in Bournemouth and the surrounding area, and will have invested in all of them by the end of the year, to ensure we bring the most up-to-date facilities to our members.”

Acknowledging the previous promise not to close offices, the spokesperson added: “However, where two branches are near each other and could better serve members if they were combined and received additional investment, we may look to close a branch.

“We know that 86% of Highcliffe members already use other surrounding branches and we have invested in the Christchurch branch, with New Milton’s refurbishment due to complete at the beginning of December.”

But one local resident told the A&T: “I’m really annoyed about this because when the Barclays branch in the village closed many customers transferred their accounts to the Nationwide because of their promise about keeping it open.

“I’m still mobile so I can get to other local branches but I know a lot of elderly can’t and they will really struggle.”

A spokesperson for Highcliffe Residents’ Association said: “We are very upset to hear about this decision, especially as it is the last bank in the village and used by so many elderly residents.

“We and the Highcliffe Action Team are working so hard to support the vitality of the businesses and this is indeed another backward step.

“We are very fortunate to have an excellent post office and a good range of everyday shops and so we hope that people will still support them.”

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