Business leaders in the Dales are taking the first steps to see MPs debate the issue of local bank closures following confirmation that the ‘last bank in Nidderdale’ is to close.
The Nidderdale Chamber of Trade is leading the call following the announcement earlier this month that Pateley Bridge’s High Street branch of Barclays, will close on May 15. The Chamber has said it will submit a petition to the Government, which will respond if 10,000 signatures are gathered and debate the issue if this grows to at least 100,000.
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With Barclays recent announcement also revealing that its Knaresborough and Boroughbridge branches will also soon close, it's believed that support could be quickly gathered in the district. While still aiming to challenge the closure in Nidderdale, or instead see an alternative mobile bank service , Chairman Keith Tordoff MBE has said he felt ‘it was time’ to see the nationwide issue raised in Parliament.
He said: “It’s important that we have banks in our communities, it’s not right that some people are relying on a post office which cannot provide the same level of services.
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“Raising the profile means increasing the pressure on banks, anything like this when it’s debated means answers will have to be provided.” He added: “Hopefully this could mean we see more mobile banks in rural areas, offering a service so elderly people do not have to travel far to access a service, farmers can deposit cheques, and helping make sure that communities have somewhere to speak to bank staff and get support.
“We would work with banks, our MPs and the LEP to see them stay, but alternatively we want to make sure that a vital service is provided, potentially through mobile banks.”
With the ‘pressure from the changing landscape of retail’, and the need for banks to play a ‘leading role in rural communities,’ David Kerfoot, MBE, Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, and Chair of the North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)has also urged banks such as Barclays to retain their branches in areas including Pateley Bridge, Knaresborough and Ripon.
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He said: “It is high time that physical banking presence in rural towns was seen as an essential for these communities, and not an optional extra. Business have a vital role to play in contributing to the social and economic needs of our society. Across York and North Yorkshire, there is a strong history of philanthropy for public good from large businesses, and present day businesses can better serve the broader needs of our rural communities by heeding to these wisdoms.