Helen Hayes has urged Lloyds to rethink closing its Lordship Lane branch next month, saying the decision will hit small, independent traders and older residents.
Lloyds had postponed the planned closure throughout the pandemic, a move the Dulwich and West Norwood MP had welcomed. But so far it has declined to remain open beyond March 3, 2021.
In a letter to the Lloyd’s Banking Group’s chief executive, Hayes said many businesses still used cash and many residents did not use online banking.
“I am concerned that the closure of your branch will slow the local economic recovery post pandemic, harm small businesses and increase financial exclusion,” she explained. “I am also concerned there is no guarantee restrictions will have been eased by the proposed closure date.
“This means many residents will be working from home and reliant on accessible local banking facilities to manage their businesses, including by paying in cheques and cash takings.
“It is essential that provision is maintained for residents who are unable to travel to branches further afield during the pandemic.”
Norwood Food Bank is one organisation already worried about losing a bank from its nearest high street.
“As a charity which banks with Lloyds we struggle greatly to access the services as one branch after another closes and we have to travel miles to use a branch,” it Tweeted.
The nearest alternative branch is in Sydenham, with Post Office branches in Lordship Lane, Dulwich Village and Forest Hill Road all offering some banking services.
According to Lloyds, around 85 per cent of customers who use the East Dulwich branch already use alternative branches, as well as online or telephone banking – but a sizeable minority do not. It says a fall in demand is behind the closure. A Lloyds spokesperson told the News: “We have made the difficult decision to close the East Dulwich branch in March, due to the changing ways customers choose to bank with us, which means the branch is being used less often.
“We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause; customers can continue to bank locally by visiting the nearby Post Office, which is less than a mile from the branch, and the nearest alternative branch is Sydenham.”