Ulster Bank bosses blasted over cash machine removal

Ulster Bank bosses blasted over cash machine removal

10 January 2018

ULSTER Bank chiefs have been criticised for seeking permission to remove a cash dispensing machine from its Killyleagh branch just days before discussing the matter with local politicians.

Last November, the bank announced it was closing the High Street branch in May — a move which was roundly condemned by customers, business owners in the town and politicians, including Strangford MP Jim Shannon.

Mr Shannon is due to meet bank officials shortly along with local councillor Billy Walker to press the case for the cash machine to be retained.

However, the Ulster Bank is seeking planning approval to remove the machine and replace the hole with a new window.

Bank officials are also due to meet a Newry, Mourne and Down Council delegation to discuss the High Street closure, but the decision to lodge a planning application has angered Cllr Walker.

“What does it say about an organisation which is seeking to remove the cash machine just days before its officials are due to meet with elected representatives to discuss its retention? he asked.

“Clearly the Ulster Bank has its mind made up, leaving Killyleagh with just one cash machine which is not that reliable at times,” he declared. “No courtesy has been extended to politicians due to meet bank officials to discuss this matter.

“The fact planning permission is being sought to remove the so-called hole in the wall before bank officials meet with politicians is nothing short of disgusting. Nothing should have happened until the meeting with the MP and the council delegation took place. I really wonder if senior bank officials are aware of this particular planning application.”

Cllr Walker accused bank officials of treating elected representatives with “contempt” and issued a reminder that the closure of the High Street branch will impact on elderly people, the vulnerable, residents and the Killyleagh business community.

The Killyleagh branch is one of eight across the Province which Ulster Bank is closing, with the Rowallane politician concerned at the number of bank closures across the district over recent years.

He said banks which are at the heart of communities in small towns and provide key services to a wide range of people are closing on a regular basis, with customers who do not have access to internet banking being hardest hit.

“Others have to make their way to other branches for one-to-one contact with staff and Ulster Bank customers in Killyleagh will now have to travel to Downpatrick or Comber. For many elderly people in particular this will be impossible,” declared Cllr Walker.

He added: “The closure of the Killyleagh branch will have a major impact and the reduced footfall will potentially impact on other businesses. At the forthcoming meetings with Ulster Bank staff, a strong case will be made to bank officials to retain the cash dispensing machine in the town. I sincerely hope they will listen and act.”