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Hempstead bank customers’ dismay at closure of ‘vibrant’ HSBC branch

By Medway Messenger reporter

Customers are angry that HSBC is to close its branch at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre.

The banking group has blamed “significant reduction in footfall”, for the move, due on June 6.

The five staff working there will be moved to the bank’s branch in Gillingham High Street.

Linda Chapman, 62, from Spekes Road, Hempstead, joined other account holders outside the bank to protest.

Jean Jones, Linda Chapman and Gemma Chapman outside HSBC at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre

She said: “To close this vibrant branch – where there’s plenty of free parking, pleasant staff and people can pop in while they’re out shopping – is crazy.”

Mrs Chapman said the decision had come “out of the blue”, and she had been unable to speak to anyone from the bank other than its overseas call centre.

She said: “I guess they have punched the postcode into a computer and found that the bank has two Gillingham addresses and decided to close one. But one is in Hempstead and the other is in Gillingham, miles away.”

A spokeswoman for HSBC said the bank needed to ensure branches were in the right places for customers.

She said: “On occasions, this means closing a branch where customer footfall has fallen dramatically or there has been a shift in customer shopping patterns.

“Our branch in Hempstead Valley is a case in point. Customer usage here has fallen very significantly.”

But she refused to respond to a request from the Messenger for customer figures. She blamed changing customer habits, increased use of internet and telephone banking, and customers using branches near work.

“The closure will be a major blow to a lot of people" - customer Linda Chapman

She added: “Decisions like this are never easy, but we are working with the small number of customers who use the branch to help them reorganise their finances.”

Customers would be able to withdraw and pay in cash at Hempstead Valley post office, as well as its banking facilities in Rainham, Chatham and Gillingham.

Mrs Chapman said: “Many customers are upset about this action, and staff are as puzzled as customers as to why such a busy branch should be closed down.

“The closure will be a major blow to a lot of people.”

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