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Reaction to Santander closure in Hythe with fears for elderly people's independence

By Molly Mileham-Chappell

A leading charity says pensioners in the Folkestone and Hythe district could become more dependent on relatives if Hythe's last remaining bank leaves the town.

Santander recently announced the town centre branch would be one of 140 across the UK to shut in 2019 as part of a national restructure.

News that the premises at 63 High Street will close on June 6 has sparked mixed feelings, with some calling it 'inevitable', while others consider it a 'short-sighted move'. But some worried residents feel older family members could be hit hardest by the decision.

Santander - Hythe (6803872)
Santander - Hythe (6803872)

Beverley Smith, information and advice officer for Age UK Hythe and Lyminge branch said: “A lot of our clients like to go into a bank and speak to someone face to face.

"Even phoning banks can be very difficult for some clients due to the amount of options and security information asked for.

"A lot of them are unable to use internet banking and would need more support from relatives with their banking, which takes away independence.

"I have had comments from people in the past about being unhappy about nearest branches of their banks being Folkestone and Ashford.”

Responding to the news on Facebook, Sharon Broad said: "This is another nail in Hythe High Street with an elderly population who don't use online banking. They like to talk to a person, sometimes it's the only person they will talk too."

Bosses say the number of transactions carried out in branches has fallen by 23% over the past three years, while digital transactions have grown by 99% over the same period, and they are responding to these changes in customer behaviour.

Elderly man inserting credit card to ATM outdoors. Stock image.
Elderly man inserting credit card to ATM outdoors. Stock image.

Some residents remarked they will 'have to move to Nationwide', as the building society is now the only remaining financial services company with a presence in the town.

'Even phoning banks can be very difficult for some clients due to the amount of options and security information asked for.' - Beverley Smith, information and advice officer for Age UK Hythe and Lyminge branch

Resdident Gill Marshall added: "The banks want us all to use the Internet, however, there are times when face to face is so important. Such as dealing with power of attorney, probate or a bereavement. It’s not just about paying in and taking out."

Santander revealed larger branches will improve their community facilities to support businesses and customers, and smaller branches will have the latest technology to offer customers more convenient access to services.

More than 1,200 jobs have been put at risk across the UK, but bosses say they expect to be able to redeploy around a third of staff affected. All current and business account holders can also bank using Post Office branches.

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