Ulster Bank last week announced that it will close another 10 branches in Northern Ireland, including its branch on the Promenade in Portstewart.
The company say that the closures are in line with proposals announced at an investor briefing 18 months ago, and that they will not result in compulsory staff redundancies, though some agency jobs may be lost.
SDLP councillor Maura Hickey has called for the direct intervention of the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Investment following the announcement.
She says: “There appears to be a situation developing where there is competition among the four banks to see who gets their branches closed first and that is not in the interests of the customers who in Portstewart will now be left with no banking facilities at all. Portstewart has many elderly people who chose the resort as a place to retire to. Must they now travel to Coleraine to do their banking?
“Is the universal banking system that we knew now at a point of collapse and will our politicians stand idly by and blame it all on the internet? I should hope not.
“The SDLP has warned for many years that there is a real danger that we will replicate what happened in England in recent years when it was not just the banks that disappeared but the post offices as well. In this case the Minister Arlene Foster will be asked to intervene because I and many others believe Portstewart has a special case and special circumstances which warrant a reprieve for this misguided decision.”
DUP MLA George Robinson said he was disappointed to learn of the closure, he said: “I find it very surprising that at a time when tourism is being heavily promoted due to the major sporting events being attracted to the area. This will also impact on the student population which keeps the businesses in the town open all year round.”