Santander Closures and Local Communities — [Philip Davies in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 1:56 pm on 14th February 2019.

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Photo of Kirstene Hair Kirstene Hair Conservative, Angus 1:56 pm, 14th February 2019

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, which shows that banking hubs would work. They would work in many communities. They would keep that vital place on the high street. They would keep choice and keep accessibility. Those who cannot log on online or do not want to could of course come and have a face-to-face discussion with someone in the bank. That is a really important point that we should be putting across, and I would be keen to know what my hon. Friend the Minister thinks of that proposal.

My final point is about transport, which I know other hon. Members have already discussed. Those who do not want to or cannot use phones or computers to do their banking will of course need to travel to the nearest bank branch, but customers who were using the Brechin branch will now have to travel 15 miles—it is a 30-mile round trip—to Arbroath, and those in Forfar will have to make a similar journey to get to Dundee. What about those with mobility issues? What about the elderly? What about those who do not have their own car? What about those who rely heavily on public transport links, which are also in decline? Those people have to rely more heavily on family and friends. Indeed, vulnerable groups perhaps have no choice but not getting to the bank.

It is really important that we look into all the aspects that affect our constituents. An elderly lady who came into my constituency office the other day remarked that the whole situation was crazy. I agree with her: it is far from desirable. Although I have been in this place for just over 18 months, I have always felt that the most powerful debates here are those in which we have cross-party consensus. I look forward to the Minister’s reaction on the impact that these closures will have on our high streets, on post office support—because we also see post offices in decline—and on the idea of banking hubs. We all need to work together to ensure that we soften the blow of bank closures for each and every one of our communities.