For many, the ferry ride between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly marks the beginning of a relaxing weekend away. For residents of the islands wanting to visit their nearest bank, it’s about to become an expensive necessity.
Lloyds, which ran the Isles’ last remaining branch, is about to close the site on the island of St Mary’s because of a persistent fall in customer numbers.
It follows the closure of a branch of Barclays four years ago.
A letter to Lloyds’ customers said that, from Monday, the nearest branch would be 44 miles away and accessible by the ferry to Penzance, Cornwall, the Times reported.
That ferry takes two hours and 45 minutes each way, costs £139.20 for a return trip, and typically runs no more than once a day, meaning a visit to the bank will soon require an overnight stay.
On Tuesday, the ferry will depart Scilly at 4.30pm and dock on the mainland at 7.30pm, by which time the nearest Lloyds branch will be closed.
Customers will then have to be waiting at the doors when the bank reopens at 9am the following morning, because the return ferry sets off at 9.15am.
The ferry runs only from March to November, meaning that in the winter months the only option will be a flight, with prices starting at £127 for a day return.
Including the cost of accommodation, Scilly residents face having to fork out hundreds of pounds in order to visit their bank in person.
There are about 2,300 permanent residents on the islands, rising to about 4,000 in summer.
Lloyds said that last year the number of people using the islands’ last remaining branch at least once a month was just 33 and that 71% used online banking.
Lloyds has said it will continue to maintain an ATM machine on St Mary’s and will trial sending a community banker to the island once every two weeks.
There will still be a total of five Post Offices spread across the islands, where people can makes deposits and withdrawals.
Steve Sims, the Isles’ councilor for the economy and tourism, told the Times: “I think people have got resigned to the idea. There was borderline outrage when it was announced but it’s cooled, but it is going to be a blow.”