Shock as First Trust bank announces Limavady branch closure

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First Trust bank is set to close its Limavady branch at the end of May, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.

The news has been met with shock and dismay by local business and civic leaders as “another blow” for the town.

First Trust announced that its Main Street branch will close on May 31 as part of ongoing restructuring.

The bank said staff currently employed at the Limavady branch and the other closing locations will be facilitated by redeployment to alternative locations or voluntary severance.

President of the Roe Valley Chamber of Trade and Commerce, David Brewster said it was beginning to feel like “death by a 1,000 cuts” for the town.

He called for urgent action by local MLAs to bring the relevant ministers to Limavady to explain what they’ve done for the area, and what they plan to do.

He says Limavady has never enjoyed any of the benefits of the economic boom, and believes an enterprise zone is needed and “some serious, heavy duty attention” for the borough.

“The Chamber is determined politicians will no longer ignore Limavady. We need action, not soundbites,” Mr Brewster told the ‘Journal’ this afternoon.

In a statement the bank said the closures will not affect customer account numbers, sort codes, or the existing operation of their accounts.

“Customers will receive a letter explaining that their accounts will be automatically transferred to the nearest alternative branch which offers a full range of banking services,” read the statement, adding that the Limavady branch’s business will move to Crescent Link in Derry.

“A dedicated helpline number will be provided for customer queries and staff will work closely with customers to establish their individual banking needs and to minimise any inconvenience resulting from the transfer to alternative branches.”

Limavady Mayor Cathal McLaughlin said: “First my thoughts are with staff at the bank, and I hope they can be re-deployed, but this is just another blow for Limavady and it will cause major inconvenience for customers. I don’t think there is much hope the decision will be reversed either. It just seems to be one thing after another for Limavady.”

Gerry McGinn, the bank’s Managing Director, said the bank continues to retain a very strong network of branches throughout Northern Ireland.

“Regrettable as they are, the closures are part of an ongoing strategy to bring the Bank back to a sustainable operating model and will not involve compulsory redundancies.

“Like all retail businesses, we must constantly review our costs in order to move forward as a more streamlined and sustainable organization,” he added.

Branches at Cregagh Road in Belfast, Ballyclare and Limavady will shut in May, while outlets in Larne, Holywood and Fortwilliam in Belfast will close the following month.

(See Friday’s Journal for further reaction and full story).