Updated late September 2023
Whilst we appreciate that more people use online banking than previously, a substantial number of local people rely on high street banks to organise their lives and run their businesses. It is important to champion the needs of physical bank users.
Over recent years, many high street banks have closed their doors in towns across Montgomeryshire and in 2022, further bank branches have closed. Barclays Banks branches in Welshpool and Newtown were closed in September and a further closure was announced of the Lloyds branch in Welshpool.
This is why, along with MP, Craig Williams, we are campaigning for a dramatic improvement in banking services on our High Streets. A LINK bank with representation of many major banks is to be opened in Welshpool's former Lloyds branch. Full details are included later in this page.
Following announcements of closures in 2022, Craig Williams MP & I ran a survey, to help us present the case for further banking services to be developed.
Survey responses highlighted concerns about:
- How people and businesses will pay in cash and arrange outgoing payments.
- The impact on main town High Streets.
- The lack of consultation with local people from banks when they do announce closures.
Welshpool’s branch closures triggered a review by LINK - the UK’s Cash Access and ATM network, which assesses the impact of branch closures and identifies where new shared facilities are needed. This forms part of legislation introduced by the UK Government in the 2022 Queen's Speech, in protecting communities’ ‘access to cash’.
LINK have subsequently been developing a new permanent banking hub for Welshpool, offering shared banking access and services. The location of the hub will be the former Lloyds Bank on the high street. It is expected to open shortly, though a date is not yet published. The Hub will, every day, be able to support cash transactions. Particularly important is going to be the provision of a Community Banker from many of the major banks on rotation by weekday. This will mean that people are able to speak, face-to-face, with someone from their own bank between 9am and 5pm.
The banks represented and their days of the week are listed below:
During my time as Chairman of the Senedd Economy Committee, we undertook a report titled ‘Access to Banking’. Following our inquiry, plans for a Community Bank for Wales are now progressing and I had hope that branches could fill some of the void left in other towns, such as Llanidloes, Machynlleth and Welshpool. I consistently pushed to engage with this organisation and the Welsh Government to encourage them to open facilities here in Mid Wales. Sadly, Welsh Government have announced that the driver behind the community bank scheme, Monmouthsire Building Society, has confirmed that they do not think that the current outlook is right for launching a community bank at this time. Having a community bank is a priority for Montgomeryshire, having seen so many high street bank closures in recent times and even the First Minister has repeatedly said that this project was a priority for him, so it is a disappointing announcement from the Welsh Government.
Moving forward, banking hubs set up by Link Financial and Cash Access UK will provide banking facilities five days a week. Alongside my colleague Craig Williams MP, I have been pushing to have banking hubs across Montgomeryshire and I am pleased that Wales' first banking hub will be placed in Welshpool. I'll continue to push the Welsh Government to establish a route back for the community bank project, I'll continue to hold talks with high street banks and will work to push for more banking hubs so that everything has access to there prefered banking service.