Bath Voice News: Wera Hobhouse joins 55 other MPs in pressing the boss of the Financial Conduct Authority to end the problem of the disappearing High Street banks

By Harry Mottram: In 2020 the branch of Barclays Bank at the University of Bath closed for good as according to the bank’s press office too few people used it while in 2022 TSB closed its branch in Quiet Street for similar reasons. Undeniably banking habits of the general public have changed over the last few years mainly due to the switch to on-line banking – but for those who trade in cash or need to speak to someone in a branch or for many older people who don’t use the internet there is a problem.

With the closing of the Lloyds and NatWest branches in Oldfield Park and the Santander branch at Bath University the city has been left with just nine banks. In many Somerset towns there are no longer any banks causing a headache for traders although banking and change can be accessed at most Post Offices.

The local MP has raised the issue by Wera Hobhouse, has, joined 55 other MPs in writing to the Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to raise concerns about recent banking closures across the country. Currently, a “last bank in town rule” operates in most areas which prevents LINK, who carry out assessments of cash access, from considering whether an area requires a new cash solution to protect access to cash, if there is still a remaining bank or building society branch in a town. The letter calls for the FCA to grant LINK the ability to operate on a case-by-case basis to assess whether a town requires more avenues for people to access cash, rather than waiting for the last bank in a town to shut its doors for good. 

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, said: “Everyone should be able to access cash. It is fundamental to a functioning community. Yet, following the pandemic, which marked a shift towards online banking, many of my constituents have found it increasingly difficult to access cash. One by one, banks are closing their doors in Bath, leaving vulnerable members of the community isolated from being able to access their hard-earned cash. We cannot just sit on our hands and allow banks to disappear from our high streets. But the FCA’s current proposals come up short. LINK must be able to intervene early and assess areas individually to determine what a community needs.” 

Bath Voice Monthly Newspaper is distributed free to thousands of homes and some supermarkets – distributed from the first of the month. Harry Mottram is the News Editor

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Harry Mottram is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Telegram, TikTok and Mobile: 07789 864769