Two thirds of banks across Hexham, Tynedale and Ponteland lost in a decade
Since 2015 nearly two in every three bank branches in the Hexham Constituency, one of the largest constituencies in England, has closed. While many of us appreciate the benefits of online banking the closures of these bank branches cause many difficulties for different parts of society. Small businesses rely on local bank branches to manage their cash flows. The elderly, the disabled and those who struggle to use the internet all suffer when in-person banking services are withdrawn. Poor public transport compounds these difficulties forcing individuals to undertake lengthy, expensive and inconvenient journeys to access vital financial services.
This is a not a new phenomenon. Bank branches, like the branch of Barclays in Prudhoe pictured above, have been closing for decades, yet we are getting to the point that large parts of our area are banking deserts. Branches are shutting and have shut in Hexham, Prudhoe, Ponteland, Haltwhistle and Bellingham. These are the same banks we, the tax payers, bailed out during the financial crisis, and, in the case of Natwest the government still owns 39% of this bank. Yet this Conservative Government has rejected calls to intervene in bank branch closures.
Joe Morris and the Labour Part pledge to open new banking hubs
In a bold move Labour has vowed to address the loss of 64.7% of bank branches in our constituency
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves said, “Labour’s plan will bring banking services back to communities who have seen them disappear over recent years, meaning more people across the country will be able to access the services they need closer to home.
“Labour will tackle ghost high streets and ensure that every community has access to high street banking services.”
Joe Morris is supporting this initiative, recognising the desperate need for these services in our area. He has said:
“It’s clear that loss of bank branches is a cause of real concern in communities across the Tyne Valley and out further into Northumberland.
“We’ve lost branches across our communities in the last two years, leaving holes in our high streets and leading to people without internet banking feeling unable to access cash.
“It’s a trend that particularly impacts the elderly and those on lower incomes.”
Alongside the plans to bring back banking to communities Labour will also back the great British high street with plans to:
Give councils the power to tackle shuttered up shops
Tackle antisocial behaviour and shoplifting through dedicated police patrols
Replace business rates with a fairer system
End late payments to support small businesses.