Concerns for rural Shropshire over cashpoint closures plan
Businesses and residents in rural towns in Shropshire could be left isolated if plans to cut up to 45 per cent of the UK total of cash machines over the next five years go ahead, it has been claimed.
Up to 30,000 free-to-use cash machines could be wiped out across the UK amid cuts in fees to operators.
According to the ATM Industry Association, changes to interchange fees and charges paid to operators by banks per withdrawal will cut access to cash at a time when banks are shutting more branches.
Machines operator LINK has previously argued that the cost of running its network is unsustainable at a time when more people are banking online and using contactless card payments.
But it insists measures are being put in place to ensure rural communities maintain existing access to cashpoints.
LINK previously announced that it was bringing forward a series of measures that it said would safeguard access to free cash. It said a new fee structure would 'shift incentives from deploying ATMs in city centres to rural and less-affluent communities' to secure free-to-use machines for the whole of the country.
According to LINK, the changes would mean free ATMs that are more than 1,000 metres from the next free machine are exempt from cuts to fees – and those in rural communities would get an enhanced subsidy to incentivise continued provision.
John Howells, LINK's chief executive, said: "LINK is committed to protecting free access to cash. The UK has a near record number of ATMs, yet the recent growth has led to the majority of these being placed in busy areas where there simply is no need for a new ATM."
The closing of cashpoints could potentially hit the smaller and more rural areas of Shropshire, with a number of towns already left without banks and only one cash machine available for miles.
Megan Prince, who owns Ironbridge Bookshop, said: "It is a bit of a shame, as I know cash is a bit of a thing of the past now, but it is important to have cash available in small tourist towns as there are a lot of small independent businesses and not all of them take card payments or only take them over a certain amount.
"Also as there are also a lot of car parks which require coins - I think it would be a real loss to the town."
Ironbridge Gorge Councillor Nicola Lowery added: "I understand that the changes would mean free ATMs that are more than 1,000 metres from the next free machine are exempt and those in rural communities would get an enhanced subsidy to incentivise continued provision.
"This is positive news for many communities in Telford and Wrekin and especially our rural communities, as it will hopefully protect our existing cash machines and additional funds will be committed to safeguard future provision.
"In Ironbridge we have a free cashpoint at the Co-op in Ironbridge and in the entrance building at Blists Hill Victorian Town, therefore under the guidelines of what LINK have advised what this would mean that these free ATM will be protected.
"This is very encouraging as the cash machines in Ironbridge are an important resource to the community and local visitors."