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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004, 09:33 GMT
Brakes to be put on mobile bank
HSBC mobile bank
HSBC has two trucks for its mobile bank service
People in communities in Cornwall are angry about the axing of a mobile bank.

The north and mid-Cornwall mobile branch of HSBC, which visits 13 towns and villages over five mornings a week, is to close at the end of January.

For customers in nine of the 13 locations, the service provides the only bank in their area.

HSBC says transactions were down 13% in two years and it would cost too much to replace the two vehicles to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act.

People still need the human touch
Marion Larkin, customer
The route of the mobile branch, which operates out of Wadebridge, includes: Roche, Goonhavern, Perranporth, St Agnes, Port Isaac, Camelford, Delabole, Boscastle, Tintagel, Rock, St Eval, St Kew Highway and St Tudy.

Warwick Provis, from Roche, said: "I think the bank is thinking about its own side of it, not the customer."

Marion Larkin, from Port Isaac, says automatic transaction machines, or ATMs, were not the answer.

She said: "In a population which is aging, like Cornwall's, people still need the human touch. They want somebody behind a counter and may not be very good with buttons at an ATM."

HSBC said: "Over the past two years, transactions have dropped by 13% and those that continue tend to be the sort than can just as easily be done by standing order, direct debit, internet and automatic transaction machines."

The bank said two thirds of customers drove to the mobile branch and customer privacy was also a big issue.

Community loss

"It has no interviewing room or privacy, and this, coupled with the amount of time it spends at each location visited, means it is difficult to engage in more complicated customer enquiries," said the bank.

It added that both of the vehicles it used would have to be replaced to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act, which would cost "hundreds of thousands of pounds".

John Beckett of the Cornwall Association of Local Councils said: "It is a loss to local communities, many of whom don't have bank branches in their towns and are some miles from a local branch.

"There are some post offices which people can use for some banking services, and using those would help the post offices. But we have also seen the loss of a number of local post offices."

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