FURTHER calls have been made for Santander to rethink its decision to close the Wibsey branch – the last bank in the Bradford South constituency. 

The banking giant announced its plans to close 111 branches across the country back in March and said it was in response to the ongoing shift by customers towards mobile and online banking. The Bingley Main Street branch is also due to close.

Judith Cummins, Labour MP for Bradford South, said banking provision in the constituency has been “totally wiped out”.

“People will have to travel over three miles to get to a bank,” she said, adding that the bank has “failed to take into account the social costs to the local area of removing this vital facility”.

Councillor David Green (Lab, Wibsey) added: “It is clear that the branch is well used and that a significant number of their customers want to bank in person, not by phone or on-line.”

He described the closure as a “kick in the teeth” for the community.

He urged the bank to reconsider its decision and said that “the suggestion that people use the Post Office as an alternative is not practical for many as this provision is not central to the village”.  

Cllr Green wrote a letter to Santander outlining concerns following a meeting with the bank and said it remains unclear why the Wibsey branch has been chosen for closure. 

A response from Adam Bishop, Head of Branch Interiors, said that Santander has seen a “continued significant decline in footfall” in branches in the years prior to the pandemic - falling by 33 per cent between 2017 and 2019. 

He said: “This has meant that we have had to take the decision to close some of our branches to ensure that we are investing in the changing ways that customers want to bank with us. 

“Despite this, my intention for these closures was to ensure that we maintain a branch network that is accessible for our customers across the entire UK.

“Therefore we have taken the decision to close some branches that are within five miles of an alternative Santander branch, which allows us to keep open branches that are more remote, ensuring that as many customers as possible still have access to a branch should they need at.”

He said while closures have not been decided purely upon changes in footfall, counter transactions in Wibsey almost halved between 2017 and 2019.
But, he said customers can use the Post Office or the Bradford city centre branch for this purpose. 

Regarding concerns about cash machines, Mr Bishop told Cllr Green that there are two nearby free-to-use cash machines at the Co-op and Post Office which are “suitable alternative options” due to their proximity.

Mr Bishop also said a “small number” of customers the bank has identified as only banking with them through the branch - and who have attended more than six times in six months - are being prioritised for support.

He added: “Whilst I understand this will not be the decision you hoped for, I hope that it clarifies the reason for the closure. 

“If you do hear from constituents that are particularly concerned about how they can continue to bank following the closure then please do let me know and I will ensure that they are supported.”