Criticism after last banks quits Newhaven town centre

HSBC to close in Newhaven
HSBC to close in Newhaven

Disappointment and disgust were expressed this week after it was announced that the last bank in Newhaven was to close on Friday September 12.

HSBC said it was closing the High Street branch because it was no longer commercially viable.

However the decision has been described as short sighted given the economic and population growth the town looks set to experience in the coming years.

Newhaven MP Norman Baker said: “Although I appreciate viability of a branch is a priority for HSBC, this does not help those individuals who are reliant on a counter service to access their own bank accounts and it is a real disappointment to those customers. Not everyone wants to bank online.”

Mr Baker said he had been assured customers would be given help to bank at the Post Office or use alternative banking services. He asked the bank to leave the cash machine in place.

The MP was told there would be no redundancies as staff would be relocated. The nearest branches are in Seaford, Lewes and Brighton.

Lester Wynne-Jones, from HSBC Bank plc, said: “We have made this decision with great reluctance, but after a careful analysis of the branch’s commercial viability it was clear that it is no longer generating the custom necessary to justify its continued development.”

Newhaven Chamber of Commerce president Annie Lorys said: “We are surprised and disappointed to hear this news, especially bearing in mind all the investment planned for Newhaven over the coming years.

“We have the University Technical College opening its doors in 2015, which is eventually going to have 600 students; the operations centre for the offshore wind farm; the new port access road and more residential housing.

“All of these projects will bring more people into the town and generate more business - we are going to need more banking facilities in the town as these projects develop. It seems short sighted of HSBC to close their doors at this time of growth and development in Newhaven.”

And Sussex Community Development Association chief executive Penny Shimmin added: “We are using the Newhaven HSBC branch two to three times a week to pay in cash and take out cash for services. It is essential to our services based from our head office here in Newhaven. Taking that business to Seaford will cause considerable disruption and additional inconvenience.”

Paul Boswell, secretary to Newhaven Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s disgusting that HSBC have decided to close the last bank in Newhaven. As a regular bank user, I have seen people queuing out the door on numerous occasions. How they can say it’s under-used is beyond me, especially as the town is starting to look up with the technical college, wind farm, new houses and so on. It’s a joke. Many of our members use the bank on a regular basis, their working days are going to be inconvenienced no end by travelling to a different town to conduct banking business, who’s going to recompense them for this?”