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How Shropshire bank closures are hurting our towns: Special report

By Jonny Drury | Business | Published:

More than 30 banks have closed across Shropshire and its borders in the last five years.

And the speed of closures is likely to increase as customers turn to internet banking, it was warned today.

Shifnal and Llanidloes are among towns about to lose their final bank.

The Shropshire arm of the Federation of Small Businesses today warned the loss of branches would particularly affect businesses like small shops that often deal in cash.

It has called on banks to pool their resources and share space in smaller towns in order to retain local services.

Federation member Ray Hickinbottom said: “By getting together and sharing resources it will reduce costs and produce a much-needed community asset. In rural parts of Shropshire the closure of banks is having quite a severe impact.”

At least 32 banks have closed in Shropshire and its borders since 2012.

Barclays will close Shifnal’s final bank in October and Llanidloes is set to lose its Barclays in November.

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Glyn Davies, Montgomeryshire MP, today criticised bank closures, saying: “I think the damage this does to communities in our region is dramatic. Banks do not care, that is the attitude I have picked up.”

Shifnal county councillor Kevin Turley admitted he can see the banks’ perspective, but added: “It is devastating for the town.

“It is leaving us so short of facilities, we have the post office who offer great services but we have no banks.

“Banks used to be a place to socialise, people were happy with the cashiers as everyone knew each other by first name.

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“The day of the community bank is dead, and the day of the bank in general is around the corner.”

The picture is mirrored across the rest of the UK, with banks in Britain are set to close a record 762 branches this year as lenders cut costs by pushing business online.

Raj Dhaliwal, Barclays community banking director for the area, said the decision to close the Shifnal branch reflected the changing way in which customers access banking services, with people increasingly use online, telephone and mobile devices.

“At Barclays’ Shifnal branch, customer usage has continued to decline and 57 per cent of our customers now regularly use alternative branches, which is why we have taken the difficult decision to close it.”

The number of branches shut or earmarked for closure so far this year is more than the 583 closed in 2016 and is the most on record, according to a Reuters study.

Branches closed since 2012

NatWest's Wellington branch closed in 2016

Shropshire:

  • Barclays Craven Arms Oct 2017
  • Co-op Shrewsbury 2017
  • Barclays Shifnal 2017
  • HSBC Knighton 2017
  • HSBC Ludlow 2017
  • Co-op Oswestry 2016
  • Lloyds Shifnal 2016
  • Natwest Wellington 2016
  • Natwest Whitchurch 2016
  • Natwest Wem 2016
  • Natwest Telford 2016
  • HSBC Whitchurch 2016
  • HSBS Harlescott 2016
  • HSBC Market Drayton 2016
  • HSBC Church Stretton 2015
  • Natwest Ellesmere 2015
  • HSBC Much Wenlock 2013
  • Barclays Bishops Castle 2012
  • HSBC Ellesmere 2012
  • Nationwide Shifnal 2012
  • HSBC Craven Arms 2012

Mid Wales:

  • Barclays Llanidloes Nov 2017
  • Natwest Machynlleth Oct 2017
  • Natwest Welshpool 2017
  • HSBC Llanfyllin 2016
  • HSBC Llanfair 2016
  • HSBC Chirk 2016
  • HSBC Llanfair 2014
  • Natwest Montgomery 2014
  • Natwest Llanidloes 2014
  • HSBC Llanidloes 2013

Damage to communities is dramatic, says MP

They used to be the hub of a town, a focus where people would meet, chat and catch up on the week’s goings-on.

It was a chance for people to socialise, as well as do their business.

But like everything that used to be all so busy 30 years ago, banks are another service being swallowed up by technology.

Earlier this month, the people of Llanidloes in Mid Wales discovered they are to lose yet another bank, their final one, in the town.

HSBC went in 2013, and NatWest followed in 2014 – citing the drop in footfall with just 22 people visiting each week.

In total, across Montgomeryshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, at 32 banks have shut their doors in the past five years.

Many banks reduced their hours to save a service but ended up closing their doors anyway. The people of Llanidloes have vowed to fight tooth and nail to keep their bank open, but previous cases suggest they are fighting a losing battle.

Glyn Davies, Montgomeryshire MP, has fought every bank battle alongside town and community councils in recent times. He criticised the banks’ attitudes, accusing them of taking ‘lifelines’ away from communities.

He said: “I think the damage it does to communities is dramatic. You see in Llanidloes it is the last bank, what will the small businesses do, of which there are many?

“Banks do not care, that is the attitude I have picked up from them down the years, they just don’t care. Jobs are cost and the behaviour of the banks, who pay the high people massive bonuses, is just not right.”

Banks in Britain will close a record of 762 branches this year, to cut costs by pushing their business online.

Jonny Drury

By Jonny Drury
@JonnyDrury_Star

Senior reporter covering Oswestry and Mid Wales.

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