A CAMPAIGNER has vowed to protest outside a bank branch earmarked for closure until the decision is reversed.

Protestors took to the streets to challenge the proposed closure of Halifax in Blackburn Street, Radcliffe, and its cash machine.

Hundreds of people have signed a petition to halt the decision to shut the bank — which is described as a "cornerstone" of the town.

The protest was attended by Ivan Lewis, MP for Bury South, and Bury Council leader Rishi Shori, who have both written to Halifax calling for an urgent meeting and for the decision to be reconsidered.

Campaigner Helen Stewart of Hardman Close, Radcliffe, said: "More than 1,200 people have signed our petition in the past four days. People are outraged by this.

"I have been stood outside the branch in all weathers for the past four days. Hundreds of people use this cash point. If this bank closes, dozens of businesses will suffer. It is really worrying."

Mrs Stewart, aged 35, who works at independent carpet shop Radcliffe Flooring, located opposite Halifax, said that businesses were struggling as a result of banks leaving the town.

In the past two years, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland have shut their Radcliffe branches, leaving Lloyds TSB as the town's only bank.

Mrs Stewart said: "Barclays' exit had a massive impact on us. If Halifax goes, we could lose 50 per cent of our footfall. We might not survive this time around."

But the people of Radcliffe have rallied together to fight the decision, with dozens of businesses and hundreds of residents signing a petition.

A protest took place outside the branch on Monday, with people waving placards and one even dressing in a Superman costume to highlight the need to save the branch.

Ivan Lewis, MP for Bury South, said: "It is a very serious blow to the town, both commercially and in terms of community. This bank is absolutely crucial to attracting people into Radcliffe and is used by local businesses. A lot of older people and disabled people also use this branch. People will really struggle to go to Prestwich or Bury. Many people still do not feel comfortable about online banking.

"I have never before seen such a strong reaction from the local community. I really hope the chief executive will reverse this decision."

In his letter to António Horta-Osório, group chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, Mr Lewis describes his “extreme disappointment” at the decision to close the Radcliffe branch, which he says is one of the “cornerstones” of the town.

Halifax cited "a drop in footfall" as the reason for the pending closure, which would leave the nearest branches in Prestwich and Bury.

"We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause", they said in a statement. "Customers can continue to access their banking locally by visiting the nearby post office, which is less than half a mile from the branch.

"As part of our commitment to UK Finance’s Access to Banking Standard, we will be proactively engaging with our customers, local businesses and the wider local community to make sure they are aware of the alternative ways of accessing their banking in the local area.

"A total of 72 per cent of personal customers in Radcliffe already use other branches or other ways to bank, such as online and telephone banking."

Under current plans, the branch will close on May 28.

Cllr Shori said: "This is a huge blow to the town. I am really concerned about the impact on residents and businesses.

"I have written to Halifax to ask them to demand an urgent meeting with a view to reconsidering the proposal. I have also them to extend the proposed timescale for closure to allow more time for them to listen to residents and try and find a solution that allows naming facilities to remain on site."

In his letter to Mr Horta-Osório, Cllr Shori wrote: "Halifax's current owner, Lloyds Banking Group, was bailed out during the financial crash by the taxpayer to the tune of billions of pounds. I think it is important that banks acknowledge the responsibility they have to the same taxpayers and communities which safeguarded their own future — and give something back."

Sign the petition at https://secure.avaaz.org/en/community_petitions/Helen_Stewart__Stop_Radcliffe_from_becoming_a_ghost_town.