SKIPTON’s Chamber of Trade & Commerce has expressed its disappointment following news the town’s Yorkshire Bank branch is closing towards the end of summer.

The High Street premises is among six branches across the north of England and Midlands that will shut.

The bank’s owner, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group (CYBG), says the number of customers using branches for day-to-day transactions across the UK banking industry has been on a downward trend for a number of years with branch visits dropping by 26 per cent over a five-year period.

This downward trend has also been reflected in reduced footfall in CYBG branches.

The bank’s bosses say that ‘as it evolves its proposition to meet this changing consumer behaviour, customer convenience is key, and it continually reviews and monitors its online, mobile and telephone services, as well as the effectiveness of the branch network’.

Following last week’s announced closures, Yorkshire Bank will have 84 branches in its network across England.

A spokesman for the Skipton Chamber of Trade & Commerce Executive said: “We’re disappointed to hear of the closure and inconvenience it may cause customers, but Skipton still has a strong presence in town from other building societies and banks.

“The Chamber hopes the town’s thriving retail offering and award-winning high street will prove attractive to new occupiers.”

Fergus Murphy, group retail director at CYBG, said: “Announcing plans to close branches is never easy and it’s not a decision we take lightly.

“A number of factors are taken into consideration when reviewing our network, including branch usage, footfall and customer behaviour. Each branch is also assessed on an individual basis, carefully considering the impact on the local area, as well as alternative options.”

He added that Yorkshire Bank would work with customers, communities and stakeholders to ensure that the transition to a new branch – and alternative ways of banking – are as smooth and as sensitive as possible, particularly where vulnerable customers are concerned.

The branches – which also include Bramley, Redcar, Tamworth, Widnes and Sutton-in-Ashfield – will begin to close in August. It is hoped to find alternative roles for staff but the company warns there may be redundancies.

Skipton branch customers received letters telling them their new account holding branch would be in North Street, Keighley. Customers were reassured sort codes and account numbers would remain the same.