Despite a profit of more than NOK 1 billion in the first half of this year, Sparebanken 1 Nord-Norge will halve the number of branches in Northern Norway. This move has faced strong reactions from the local administrations.
The bank has announced that it will close 16 of 31 bank branches. None of the places affected by the closure have alternative banks to go to, Klassekampen writes.
Both Arild Olsen, head of the local board in Longyearbyen on Svalbard, and Tana mayor Helga Pedersen, react strongly to the news.
“We can not get in a car and drive to the next bank”, says Olsen, who believes it is very important to have a financial institution in Svalbard. He is also concerned about what this means in terms of jobs.
Tana mayor, Helga Pedersen, also questions the move about the bank wanting to close the branch in her municipality.
“To put it mildly: This is very unfortunate. It is also very surprising”, says Pedersen, who has already contacted board chairman Karl Eirik Schjøtt-Pedersen regarding the case.
Stein Vidar Loftås, Head of Communications at Sparebank 1 Nord-Norge, assures that both private customers and the business community are in safe digital hands.
He says that apart from Svalbard, 94 percent of the population in the north will have a bank within an hour’s drive, while everyone will be able to reach an office with a three-hour drive.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today