Santander set to slash Basildon and Billericay opening hours

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Article by Lewis Berrill: Fears have been raised residents will be “isolated from baking” as major firms pull out of Billericay.

Since the beginning of the year, three major companies have announced they will close their High Street branches.

HSBC UK, Natwest and Barclays are all quitting the town, but this week bosses at Santander, which is set to reduce its opening hours, have pledged to keep their branch open.

Oliver Willard, 74, of Western Road, says he fears he will be unable to bank in-person if any more branches are closed.

“I don’t have a smart phone to do online banking with and I shouldn’t have to fork out hundreds of pounds to buy one just so I can manage my money,” he said.

"We are fast running out of banks here, and if any more close I could be completely isolated from my bank."

Basildon and Billericay MP John Baron recently met with Santander bosses to discuss changes to opening hours at the Billericay and Basildon branches.

The bank has decided to reduce opening hours from July 18 onwards from 9.30am to 3pm on weekdays, having previously been open until 4.30pm.

The branches will also now close at 12.30pm on Saturdays, three-and-a-half hours earlier than before.

But the firm has pledged to keep staff on site between 3pm and 5pm appointments.

Mr Baron said:

“While it is disappointing that Santander is reducing its branch opening times, I am pleased it is maintaining a branch presence in the High Street and congratulate them on doing this. We have agreed to monitor the situation and promised to keep in touch.”

Franz McCoy, area director for Santander, has pledged the branches will not be permanently closed.

He added:

“We have seen a continuing reduction in branch usage over several years, with many customers preferring to transact with us digitally or contact us by phone. The following changes help make sure we have the right mix of channels to help our customers however they choose to bank with us.”

Santander say branch transactions have fallen by 33 per cent in the two years before the pandemic, 20 per cent in 2020 and 12 per cent in 2021.

Article by Lewis Berrill, The Echo