A campaign is set to launch in the Dales, spearheaded by community and business leaders from across the district, to force a government debate on the loss of local banks
A petition submitted by the Nidderdale Chamber of Trade will open tomorrow, with the aim of gathering 100,000 signatures to prompt a parliamentary debate calling for communities to be protected from the impact of bank closures.
Serious concerns were raised across the county in early February, when Barclays announced the closure of branches in Pateley Bridge, Knaresborough, Boroughbridge and Grassington.
With the exception of Knaresborough, this represented the loss of these town’s last bank. With residents and businesses now facing longer journeys to other areas which retain branches, or having to rely on online services, the situation isn’t good enough, says Keith Tordoff of Nidderdale Chamber of Trade.
Gathering together representatives to back the petition, he has secured the support of County Councillor for Knaresborough, David Goode, Boroughbridge Town Councillor, Peter Phillips, along with the Grassington Chamber of Trade.
Mr Tordoff said: “I am very confident of hitting this 100,000 target of signatures, by working with people from other areas we should be able to gather enough support to see this debated in parliament.
“Three of these areas will be left without a bank, and are known for attracting large numbers of visitors. The loss of banks results in less spending in those communities, problems accessing ATMs, and the loss of services simply leaves areas isolated and that will cause problems.”
Mr Tordoff added: “What’s currently on offer isn’t good enough, with people being offered help to do things online.
“Unfortunately for many people that’s not enough.“We need this debate on what should be offered to communities.
“In some areas there are now no banks at all, and these things should have been thought about. “
We need access to services like mobile banks, but things just seem to have been done back to front, and they now expect people to travel to access services.”
After years of bank closures in Knarsborough residents were urged to let to let the government know ‘they have had enough,’ by backing the petition.
Coun David Goode said: “It’s very much aimed at raising this local issue to a national level. It’s aiming to get the government to recognise the issue that local closures are having on communities like ours.
“It leaves people disadvantaged, the elderly, disabled and low income families, who don’t have the income to cover the cost of travelling back and fourth.
“It will send a strong message that people have had enough, they will not allow this to continue - a reduction in their financial services of their communities and they have to do something.”
He added: “It might be that banking as it is might not be the future, but services are needed - whether that is something like a mobile bank or having a number of banks operating by sharing resources.
“This isn’t just North Yorkshire, there are so many communities nationwide that have been effected by this. If we can get this message out there 100,000 signatures isn’t unachievable, and it will help go towards helping those who are left disadvantaged.”
The Knaresborough Chamber of Trade has also recently launched its own questionnaire, surveying businesses on what banking services they require following the loss of Barclays. They too have backed the petition, calling for residents to rally behind efforts to support local businesses.
Bill Taylor, Secretary and Treasurer said: “We fully back anything like this, which could help members to run their businesses by ensuring they have services to do so.”