HSBC to shut rural branch in Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant
An AM has condemned a decision by HSBC to shut a village branch in Powys.
The banking group said the branch in Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, near Llanfyllin, was no longer viable and would close on 30 September.
Mid and West Wales AM William Powell voiced "grave concerns" and said the move threatened to be a hammer blow "to this deeply rural community".
HSBC has closed 11 "under-used" branches in Wales since 2009, but they were not all in rural areas.
In March, Barclays was criticised by people in Rhayader, Powys, for a decision to end its presence in the town.
Mr Powell said Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant had a population of nearly 1,500, and 65% were Welsh speaking. Many of those were elderly and did their banking in Welsh.
The Liberal Democrat AM said: "This move threatens to be a hammer blow to this deeply rural community, especially the elderly and those who wish to do their banking in the Welsh language.
"I shall be seeking a meeting soon with colleagues, including county councillor Aled Davies, Russell George AM and members of the local business community."
Mr Powell said he intended to raise the matter in the Welsh assembly, and had spoken to the chairman of Powys council Barry Thomas.
In a letter to Mr Powell last week, Rachel Thomas, HSBC regional director in Wales, said the "difficult decision" was taken after "careful consideration". She added the branch was not viable.
A HSBC spokesman added: "'Branches are an important part of our network and we are spending around £100m each year on upgrading and improving our branches.
"However, we need to ensure that our branches are in the right locations for our customers and on occasions this means that we need to close a branch where customer footfall has fallen dramatically or there has been a shift in customer shopping patterns.
"Our branch at Llanrhaeadr is currently only open for 4.5 hours per week (on a Friday), and customer usage of the branch has fallen very significantly over the past few years."
He said the branch's two staff would transfer to other local branches, and there were plans to keep an ATM machine in the village.
HSBC is transferring customers' accounts in Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant to a branch in nearby Oswestry, Shropshire.