Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for Mid & West Wales has called for Carmarthenshire communities to benefit from the establishment of a shared banking hub as Wales is set to be overlooked in the latest wave of banking hub locations.
A banking hub is a shared service that operates in a similar way to a standard branch, with a counter service run by Post Office staff where customers of almost any bank can withdraw and deposit cash, make bill payments and carry out regular transactions.
During the first establishment wave earlier in 2022, 12 locations for banking hubs were located across the UK, with only one however located Wales – in Welshpool, Powys. The latest announcement, made on Tuesday 9 September, has identified 13 additional hub locations – with four in Scotland, one in Northern Ireland, and the remaining eight in England.
Figures announced by Which? earlier this year show that the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr constituency has suffered the highest number of bank closures in the UK, losing 13 of its 15 branches since 2015 – witht towns such as Newcastle Emlyn and Llandovery left with the unenviable status of ‘no bank towns’.
Bank branch closures in Carmarthenshire reflect a growing trend seen across Wales, with recent data from the ONS showing that between 2012 and 2021, Wales saw a 36% drop in the number of bank and building society branches – with rural communities bearing the brunt of these closures.
Speaking in response to the overlooking of Carmarthenshire as a potential location for future banking hubs, Cefin Campbell MS said:
“I am disappointed communities in Carmarthenshire won’t yet be able to benefit from a banking hub. We already know that many areas in the county have been left high and dry as banks abandon our high streets – a move that too often hammers a further nail into the coffin of our rural town centres, and causes significant inconvenience for small businesses and the elderly.
Whilst I appreciate the way we are banking is changing, many constituents continue to be dependent on cash and crave that assurance of face-to-face meetings. As such, I will be writing to The Banking Hub company urging them to consider the establishment of a banking hub in Carmarthenshire for the next wave of hub announcements.
Out of a proposed total of 25 hubs, it is disappointing only one is currently in Wales – and I have no doubt that the establishment of such service in Carmarthenshire could provide a useful stimulus for our high street, and a boost to many residents who have grown tired of seeing key services only relocate further away.”