- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
A cross-party group of Assembly Members has proposed a special debate on bank branch closures.
Labour Mid and West AM Joyce Watson is supporting the bid. She claims rural Wales has “borne the brunt” of the policy. She said:
“Most weeks, it seems, I receive a letter from one of the big banks informing me of yet another closure.
“The fact is, when a branch closes – especially when it is the last one in the area – it hits businesses and makes life harder for people who don’t have access to the internet or their own transport.
“In Powys alone, HSBC is this month closing its Llanfyllin and Llanfair Caereinion branches, Builth Wells and Rhayader next month.
“After the banking crisis and the bail-outs, you would think the big banks would have a greater sense of obligation to their customers. It is time they reconsider this unrelenting closure policy.”
The debate put forward is to propose that the National Assembly for Wales:
• deplores the number of bank branch closures in Wales, and in particular the frequency of closures even when the bank branch may be the last bank in the area
• calls upon the banks to consider the impact of bank branch closures on urban and rural communities and individuals, especially older people and small businesses before final decisions on closures are made
• calls upon the banks to further carry out meaningful consultation, including local community organisations, pensioner organisations and business groups before final closure decisions, most especially when the bank branch concerned is the only one remaining in the area
• calls upon the UK government, the Welsh Government and the Financial Conduct Authority to ensure that the impact of bank branch closures are taken into account when carrying out their responsibilities for financial services, economic development, and financial regulation.
The Assembly’s business committee will decide whether or not to hold the debate.
Llanfyllin and Llanfair Caereinion HSBC branches will close on Friday 12 February. Customers’ accounts will be transferred to Welshpool. Builth Wells and Rhayader will close on Friday 11 March, with account administration transferred to Llandrindod. Meanwhile, all HSBC current account customers are now able to withdraw and deposit cash and cheques at Post Office braches.
For more information about Joyce Watson AM’s work, contact her office on 0300 200 7092 / www.joycewatson.org.uk