The MP for Burnley, Julie Cooper, has written to the Regional Director of Santander to appeal against the retail banking company's decision to close down their branch in Padiham, expressing "grave concern" at the impact it will have on the community.
Lambasting what she called a "flawed decision", Julie Cooper MP has asked for a meeting with the bank’s decision makers and will be launching an online and paper petition to persuade Santander to halt the closure, which is scheduled for June 28th, 2018.
In the letter, the MP said that she believed the decision would cause "great distress, inconvenience and frustration to many of the residents of Padiham," outlining over a dozen cases of why the closure would have a negative impact on the Padiham community.
Listing a few reasons, Julie Cooper MP stated that "Santander is the only remaining bank in Padiham," and assured that "the branch is extremely well-used by local residents." She also pointed out that a number of Padiham pensioners had been told to transfer their pensions from the Post Office to a bank only to be advised to change them back again, causing "great confusion and considerable distress to many elderly and vulnerable people."
The MP also highlighted the bank as a beacon of community spirit following the Boxing Day Floods of 2016 when it served as a drop-off point for donated items, including clothes, and that The Royal British Legion used the branch as a base for the Remembrance Day Commemorations after the town hall was so badly damaged.
"The figures which you have provided in your information leaflet appear to me to be misleading, and seem to suggest that if a customer has used a branch of Santander in another location once, then they will be able to use that branch as a permanent option," Julie Cooper MP wrote.
"This is unreasonable," she continued. "Clearly some older or disabled residents may occasionally be able to get into Burnley town centre (a distance of some 4 miles) if assisted by a relative or subject to weather and public transport permitting but could not do this regularly, easily or in bad weather."
Confronting the recommended switch to online banking, she insisted many older residents do not have access to a computer or the skills required to access online banking, and said that "telephone banking is no substitute for those with any degree of hearing impairment," and bemoaned a lack of consultation with locals.
"I urge you in the strongest possible terms to reconsider this disastrous decision for Padiham residents," the MP wrote. "I would like to arrange a meeting with the decision makers at Santander, at your very earliest convenience to discuss these very serious issues and pass on the very strong feelings of my constituents.
"The people of Padiham are proud, strong and resilient," she added. "They have endured a great deal of hardship in recent years and have responded with courage and fortitude as a community. They have greatly valued the contribution of their Santander branch in helping them to get back on their feet.
"Please reverse this decision as a matter of some urgency. This Santander branch should be at the heart of this community’s future not a relic from its past."