IN yet another blow to banking in West Cork, there are now real fears that Bandon could lose another of its banks, with the Permanent TSB branch on South Main Street set to become ‘fully automated’ and left without a physical cash desk from the middle of next month.
Located two doors down from Ulster Bank – which is set to close in the near future – customers will now have to travel to the Clonakilty branch of TSB during Level 5 restrictions if they need to use the cash desk or deposit coins.
A notice on the bank’s website states that from April 19th the branch will become ‘a fully automated cash and digital experience branch’ and there will ‘no longer be a physical cash desk.’
This week the bank denied that it would lose staff at the branch, saying the introduction of ‘quick banking machines’ will allow staff members to ‘come out from behind the desk to work directly with customers.’
The bank branch will no longer accept coins.
A spokesperson said the bank is committed to its branch network and has no plans to reduce the number of branches. It added that staff will be using ‘more digital support’ for customers ‘with iPads and digital advisors’ being used.
‘Branches will change but they don’t have to disappear,’ the statement added.
But Senator Tim Lombard – whose office is also on the same street – is calling on the bank to pause the plan, and to have a real and meaningful engagement with its customers.
‘It’s very short notice for the customers, with many only finding out through word of mouth or physically attending the bank and seeing the notice inside,’ Sen Lombard told The Southern Star.
‘The bank hasn’t even written or notified their account holders of this and it’s going to cause huge convenience for people,’ he said.
Sen Lombard said the fear now is that this is just another step to closing the bank fully and he cited the example of the Dunmanway branch of the Bank of Ireland which is to close in September.
‘They had their services reduced significantly before the bank recently announced it was to close. This could be another bank taken off South Main Street in Bandon, which is known as a business and banking town,’ he said. ‘We are also in Level 5 and people can’t be expected to travel long distances to carry out over the counter transactions.’
Chair of the (BBA) Bandon Business Association Hilary O’Farrell said the move will particularly effect the older generation, who like the personal touch when banking.
‘This means customers will now have to travel to Clonakilty to do their banking at a time when we are trying to keep people in Bandon to support the businesses here,’ said Hilary.
The Carrigaline and Ballincollig branches of the bank will also become fully automated from April 19th.