Lloyds branded a 'disgrace' for C&G branch closures
Banking giant Lloyds sparked outrage today after announcing that the entire Cheltenham & Gloucester branch network is to close as part of a fresh wave of job cuts.
The group is to cut a total of 1,660 full-time jobs, including 928 at C&G and several hundred at other parts of the business.
Unite said the cuts were "disgraceful", while workers spoke of being "kicked in the teeth".
Lloyds said it was closing its network of 164 C&G branches in November as it focused on building its mortgage and savings direct and intermediary businesses.
The closures will result in the loss of 833 full-time jobs, which will affect up to 928 full-time and part-time workers.
Other cuts will hit 265 jobs in the personal loans business at Chester, reducing the number of Black Horse personal finance centres and moving the car financing arm, CarSelect, from Cardiff to Birmingham, with the loss of 140 jobs, as well as other cuts in retail support and sales.
Helen Weir, group executive director, retail, at Lloyds Banking Group, said: "Cheltenham & Gloucester is a very strong brand. The strategic focus for C&G from now on will be to further strengthen its intermediary and direct savings businesses.
"Another major priority for us is to ensure that we manage the closure of the C&G branch network so that it causes as little disruption as possible to our customers.
"We have a number of measures in place to achieve this. It is always difficult to make decisions about our business that affect our colleagues.
"We will work through these changes carefully and sensitively and continue to consult closely with our unions throughout the process."
Lloyds said it would try to achieve the job cuts through natural turnover, making less use of contractors and redeploying staff wherever possible.
"Where it is necessary for colleagues to leave the company, it will look to achieve this by voluntary severance. Compulsory redundancies will be a last resort," said a statement.
The group said C&G was writing to its customers to explain the changes, adding: "C&G customers who wish to use a branch can, as now, manage their C&G mortgage and savings accounts at any of the more than 1,800 Lloyds TSB branches.
"For the overwhelming majority of C&G branches, there is an existing Lloyds TSB branch within 400 metres.
"Customers can also manage their accounts and open new mortgage and savings accounts over the phone and by post."
Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of the Unite union, said the news was "nothing short of disgraceful", adding: "This move by Lloyds bank will rip the heart out of hundreds of local communities up and down the country, as customers will see their valued community bank branch close.
"Hundreds of staff who have worked hard for years to make the C&G brand a success will view this news as a kick in the teeth. UK taxpayers have not poured billions of pounds into this organisation just to see it sack thousands of hard-working people.
"Frontline staff in banks across the country are blameless for the mistakes of management which have brought the important finance industry to the point of collapse. Yet these workers now face an uncertain future as Lloyds abandons C&G's high street branches.
"This is truly a dark day for the financial services sector in this country."
The town of Cheltenham and the city of Gloucester were united in mourning for the 150-year-old stalwart that bears both their names.
Tim Bawtree, 37, a software company director from Cheltenham, said it was "crazy" C&G would no longer have outlets in the town that bears its name.
Mr Bawtree, whose underground home featured on BBC's Grand Designs, said: "It is very sad. Cheltenham and Gloucester not having any branches in Cheltenham and Gloucester is just crazy.
"It is a mad situation in a crazy time. It is a huge employer in the area."
One employee from Barnwood, Gloucester, said: "I have worked for C&G for over 20 years and am absolutely gutted that we are losing our branch network, to save HBOS.
"What a kick in the teeth, after being used by Gordon Brown to save his Scottish sinking ship."
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