Banking giant indicates it has no immediate plans to shut Rasen branch

Bankers row: Lloyds is the last bank in Market Rasen. Natwest and HSBC closed last year and their premises remain unoccupied. EMN-160729-143021001
Bankers row: Lloyds is the last bank in Market Rasen. Natwest and HSBC closed last year and their premises remain unoccupied. EMN-160729-143021001

Fears that the last remaining bank in Market Rasen could be axed as part of a nationwide scheme of closures appeared to be receding today (Wednesday).

There was concern Lloyds Bank could be shut amid plans by the company to shed 3,000 jobs and close 200 branches.

However, a Lloyds spokesman said that they had ‘no immediate plans’ to close the Market Rasen branch.

He added the review was ‘ongoing’ and that Lloyds was continuing to work through the process of identifying any branches that may close.

He added: “As and when any decisions are made, our colleagues and customers will be the first to know.

“We remain committed to our Lloyds Bank branch network and branches will continue to play an important role in our multi-channel approach to meeting customer needs; at the same time we are investing heavily in digital and mobile to give our customers choice.”

Rasen mayor, Councillor John Matthews welcomed the announcement, saying it would have been an ‘absolute travesty’ if the branch did close.

He said: “I am pleased to hear the Rasen branch is safe for the time being.

“I think it would be an absolute travesty if Lloyds took the decision to close the Rasen branch for both personal and business users.

“It would also be a very narrow minded decision as they now have a virtual monopoly in the town and I know of several people and businesses who have moved their accounts to Lloyds since the closure of HSBC and Nat West.

“Even with internet and telephone banking, counter services are still required.”

Staff and customers across Lincolnshire were stunned when news of the potential job cuts and branch closures was announced last week.

The bank blamed changes to customer behaviour and anticipated cuts to interest rates following the vote for Brexit last month.

Lloyds plays an important part in the High Streets of many towns across our area - including Skegness, Boston, Spilsby, Spalding, Bourne, Sleaford, Donington, Holbeach, Louth, Market Rasen and Horncastle.

In small towns, the branches have served villages and vulnerable people who may not have access to the internet or public transport to bigger centres.

So far this year, 70 branches across the country have closed - the nearest to Rasen being one in Cleethorpes Road, Grimsby.

Six more are scheduled to close, but not in our region.

Lloyds had already earmarked 200 branches for closure by 2017 so the latest announcement means that 400 will be shut by the end of next year.

Chief executive António Horta-Osório said: “Following the EU referendum, the outlook for the UK economy is uncertain and, while the precise impact is dependent upon a number of factors including EU negotiations and political and economic events, a deceleration of growth seems likely.

If the Rasen branch did close, customers would have to travel to Louth, provided, of course, that remains open.