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9th May 2012

BEAMINSTER: Residents fear town becoming Ďa museumí

By Paul Crompton

THE ATM outside HSBC will close along with the Beaminster based bank this Friday.

The cash-point in the Hogshill Street building will be switched off at close of business on May 11th for at least four days.

The shock announcement came as protestors handed a 443 signature petition calling for services to remain in the town to the bank’s representatives.

Work on the ATM will take place over the weekend and should be finished by this Monday– although an HSBC spokesman could not guarantee it would be completed on time.

The spokesman confirmed the freehold property will be put up for sale next week, with the branch sold with the ATM attached to it.

It is unclear who would take over the ATM when the building is sold.

Fears over the long-term future of the ATM have grown since it was announced the bank would close do to lack of use.

Councillors, residents and community groups including Beaminster and Villages Local Partnership (BAVLAP) have been battling to save the ATM – including a protest first reported by the View From – and then nationally - in March.

Councillor Sally Samuel and Councillor and BAVLAP chairman Rosemary Beeny met with an HSBC representatives on May 4th.

Councillor Samuel said after the meeting that she was told G4S would take over the running of the ATM. A spokesman for the security company was unable to confirm this.

Councillor Samuel said: “I asked about what happens when the bank closes and how quickly G4S will take over the ATM and that’s when the Bridport manager said we should expect four or five days.”

She added: “People are very disappointed the bank is closing. I think it’s a worry for everybody and every business and all customers with the bank.

“We want Beaminster to be a vibrant and active market town, rather than some kind of museum. This will not be helping us to bring people and visitors into the town.”

Councillor Beeny said people in the villages were very, very upset and had written to her saying how upset they were.

She said: “People are saying they don’t want to lose the ATM and really want a banking service in the town, it’s as simple as that because this is their hub and the central place for all the villagers to come into for shopping and banking.”

She added: “All the big banks have pledged to keep the last banks in a town but HSBC won’t do that.

“Also all banks have become able to use bank cards in post offices - they were asked to do that by the government - but HSBC refuse to do that.”

Councillor Valerie Baldwin said she hoped local businesses would stop using HSBC.

She said: “I’m just hoping the local businesses protest with their feet and move to other banks because if they don’t they will still have to drive outside the town for banking facilities.”

Beaminster resident Elaine Hendrickson said she was upset about the closure.

She said: “As a member of the Raucous Chorus we do all our banking with HSBC’s community account so we will have to go to Bridport or Crewkerne. We are thinking about taking our account from HSBC and finding another community bank.

“And personally I’m thinking about moving my bank account.”

Lindsay Fox, regional Marcomms Manager for G4s, said: “I can confirm that G4S does not service this particular ATM so would not be involved in any arrangements for its future use or decommission, which I would imagine would be at the discretion of HSBC.”  

An HSBC spokesman said the closure was because the cost of maintaining a shared branch, whether full time or not, was an unrealistic option.

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