Bank customers take on bosses to keep branch open

Lady Skeet PNL-150408-103448001
Lady Skeet PNL-150408-103448001

Customers who use the Kempston branch of a major bank are ready to take on bosses who say it must close.

The HSBC branch, in Bedford Road, has informed clients they’ll have to do their business in Bedford, or online, when it shuts its doors in October.

But users of the bank are demanding a hearing.

Lady Skeet, widow of former MP Sir Trevor Skeet, is a regular customer. She’s been using the bank ever since her branch of Barclays closed down in Clapham, near where she lives, in a similar reorganisation some years ago.

“It’s a very convenient bank,” she said. “There is plenty of parking and other shops in the parade. I shall be very sad if it closes.

“I don’t want to go to the bank in Bedford. Parking is more difficult and older people will have a longer walk once they do park.”

Lady Skeet, 84 on Monday (August 3), relies on friends to drive her to the shops and parking is a big factor in where she goes.

One of her favourite stores is the Marks and Spencers at the garage in Newnham Avenue, Bedford, for that reason.

“Think of the local businesses who need a local bank,” she added. “I certainly won’t be going online.”

Winston Jermy who runs a small gardening concern in Kempston said: “My main account is at the Bedford branch but I do all my transactions in Kempston. It is so convenient and easy to get to.“

A HSBC spokeswoman said: “We are closing the Kempston branch on October 9. We never take the decision to close a branch lightly, and we understand it’s unsettling for the local community.

“Unfortunately, use of the Kempston branch has fallen significantly over the past few years, and we’ve taken the difficult decision to close it.”

She added: “We are working with customers who use the branch to help them understand their options, which include being able to use the Kempston post office to check their balance and withdraw and pay in cash and cheques to their personal HSBC account.

“Customers can also use any of our HSBC branches, including the branch nearby in Bedford, in addition to a number of fee-free cash machines in the local area.”