The efforts by local people and business people in Blaenavon to resist the proposed closure of the HSBC branch (the only bank in the town) on Broad Street, Blaenavon should be supported. They have rightly pointed out that the loss of the bank would be a real blow to Blaenavon, as it would force shoppers elsewhere and taking business away from the town.
Local campaigners have rightly pointed out that there will be an impact on the elderly and vulnerable people, who will now have to travel to the nearest bank in Pontypool, Brynmawr or Abergavenny. HSBC plans to close its Blaenavon branch from May 11th saying that it is no longer commercially viable. The big four bank have been quietly closing their branches across Wales for at well over the last ten years, much to the irritation of their customers. I and other Plaid activists in a number of campaigns in more than a few communities across the Gwent valleys to retain local bank services (in Abersychan and Blaina to name but two) - some have been successful, some have not.
The rot sets in when a local bank has its hours reduced, then it has limited or reduced services and finally it ends up being closed. The banks may talk about commercial viability, but, there are some things you cannot do on-line and some things that people generally prefer to do face to face. Closing the last bank in Blaenavon is a bad idea, as local businesses people have pointed out say the decision could damage or destroy a popular local shopping centre.
An emergency public meeting has been arranged for Thursday night (26th January), and plans are under way to launch a petition. A public meeting at Blaenavon Workingmen’s Hall on Thursday from 6.30 pm to decide the first steps of a campaign. Local campaigners are chasing support from politicians in Cardiff Bay and Westminster in an effort to resist the closure, all power to their elbow.