Last year, following the closure of the last two banks on Northolt Road, hundreds of local residents signed my petition calling for a Bank Hub in South Harrow. The Labour Party have now announced that in Government, we will accelerate the roll out of banking hubs across the country.
Following a review of South Harrow, LINK have deemed that it currently would not be appropriate for a banking hub. When making this decision, they believe that the main reason South Harrow is currently not appropriate is its proximity to Harrow Town Centre and the banks there. Whilst this is disappointing, mine and James’s belief remains that people in South Harrow, Rayners Lane, North Greenford, Northolt, and surrounding areas deserve easy access to face-to-face banking services.
We believe that the current criteria for banking hubs are framed around the geography and population of rural areas, and whilst this is also important, there is little focus for banking hubs in urban areas. The Financial Conduct Authority who set the criteria for this are currently consulting on this criteria which would widen it. If you are interested in learning more about this consultation or taking part in the consultation, you can do so at:
Residents can help us make the case for a change in rules here: https://www.fca.org.uk/publications/consultation-papers/cp23-29-access-cash
For a number of reasons, we believe there is a unique and unmeasured impact of the closure of banks for this land area of 70,000 people and 147 retailers (South Harrow), as well as for neighbouring wards with no banks (North Greenford, Northolt Mandeville, Sudbury, Rayners Lane, Harrow on the Hill, West Harrow).
The Labour Party has now announced that in Government it will accelerate the roll out of ‘banking hubs’ which help people deposit and take out cash as well as get support and help with wider banking services. Labour will work with banks and, where necessary, bring in new powers for the Financial Conduct Authority to stop people being left in ‘banking deserts’ guaranteeing communities access to face-to-face banking services.
Gareth Thomas MP said: “Many people feel that banks are pushing them to use online banking and removing face to face banking services.
“But there are lots of people that only bank in branch and don’t feel comfortable with online banking. Local businesses also need somewhere to go to access funding and deposit cash that isn’t miles away.
“I believe it is incredibly important for banks to play their part in maintaining a vibrant local economy with essential services available to all. Lloyds and Barclays were the last remaining national bank branches in South Harrow and their closures marginalise a significant number of people in this community.
“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.”
While the Conservatives have delivered just a handful banking hubs, Labour’s plan could see at least 350 banking hubs established on local high streets and, as hubs are shared by the major banks, customers from almost every bank can use the hub.
The plans come as Labour reveals the shocking lack of banking services available on British high streets. Almost half of bank branches in the UK have shut since the Conservatives won their majority in 2015, with Harrow losing nearly two thirds of bank branches.
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.