Twenty One communities in Wales now have no bank, and forty seven have only got one bank, says the Campaign for Community Banking Services. The problem of closing banks affects all parts of Wales, while it is more readily identifiable in rural communities; it also affects our urban areas as well. HSBC is closing its branches in Presteigne, which closed on Friday (over 500 people signed a petition against the closure of the Presteigne branch) , and in Blaenafon (where over a 1,000 people signed a petition against the planned closure of the last bank in the town), Torfaen, on the 11th May. HSBC says that both banks have seen a significant decline in the numbers of customers using their services and are no longer commercially viable.
Campaigners in both communities rightly claim that businesses in the area will suffer and that residents (especially the elderly) who are reliant on public transport to bank in a nearby town will be disadvantaged. Just for the record HSBC HAS closed six branches in Wales between last September and December, including Llandysul, Ceredigion, and Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in Powys. While the company has also closed 17 "under-used" banks in Wales since 2009, but not all been in rural areas.
Both HSBC, Barclays and the rest have been quietly closing small rural banks in recent months, and NatWest plans to cut opening hours. The British Bankers' Association says more customers now go on-line and banks must examine branch running costs. Despite the spin this is about nothing more than cutting running costs, the banks have little (or not concern) for their customers or the concerns of the customers.