First Trust to make exit from Castle Street

Carrick’s commercial sector has been dealt a further blow with First Trust Bank announcing plans to shut its Castle Street branch.

The bank says the closure by December 5 is part of a change to its network with customers transferring to Glengormley. Staff, it added, will be offered alternative roles within the bank.

In a statement to the Carrick Times, First Trust said all customers whose accounts are affected will receive a letter 12 weeks ahead of the move and a helpline will be provided.

Explaining the change, which will also see the Coalisland branch shut, Des Moore, head of the bank, said: “The reality is that far fewer of our customers are using their branch for routine transactions that can now be carried out more conveniently using technology – whether that’s to pay bills, transfer funds or simply to keep an eye on their finances.

“As customer habits change, the resulting decline in branch usage means that regrettably we have had to make this difficult decision. We will be working hard to ensure that this change happens as seamlessly as possible for all impacted customers.

“We’re confident that we will continue to offer our customers a convenient and versatile service through a combination of online, mobile and telephone channels, as well as our branch network which remains at the heart of banking for those bigger decisions such as arranging a mortgage.”

Describing the announcement a “blow for Carrickfergus”, East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson is seeking an urgent meeting with the bank about the branch which employs six people (five permanent).

Mr Dickson expressed particular concern about elderly customers “many of whom will have great difficulty travelling to Glengormley and who will not be able to use electronic banking”.

The Alliance representative noted the closure follows the previous loss of the Bank of Ireland branch on High Street and the former Northern Bank in Whitehead.

Echoing these sentiments, UUP MLA Roy Beggs has written to the First Trust Bank expressing disappointment at the decision.

Mr Beggs added: “I can only urge customers who deem themselves to be inconvenienced by the streamlining move to show their discontent by exploring other banks and building societies in the area.”

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