Where have all the banks gone? Horsham Lib Dems ask Horsham District to explore solutions for customers left without access to banks and cash.

Horsham Lib Dems have tabled a Motion at Wednesday’s Council agenda asking for Horsham District Council (HDC) to address the decline of banking facilities across towns and villages by investigating alternative provisions.

As many as six banks have closed branches in Horsham in the last four years and the number of cash machines has fallen by a quarter across the district. Most recently TSB on West Street shut its doors, encouraging customers instead to use either their mobile banking app, internet banking or telephone banking.

However, there are still many residents in our community that may not be able to easily access alternative services, and risk finding themselves living in a banking desert.

Cllr Clive Trott, Denne Ward, stated:

“We have seen other local authorities across the country participate in trials to address the lack of traditional bank branches, such as ‘Bank Hubs’ run by the Post Office, rolling out wider network of cashback facilities from local shops, the installation of automated deposit machines for small business, and encourage mobile banking vans in car parks. We’re asking HDC to be proactive in addressing this current and growing problem.”

Cllr Jon Olson, Forest Ward, Shadow Cabinet Member for Economy, added:

“We will no doubt continue to see a move towards a more cashless society. However, we must ensure that no one is left vulnerable or cut off because they are unable to access counter services or have to travel further to find an ATM. The Council can play a role by trialling new facilities and talking to banks about new trials. We can also ensure our own services and our partners continue to accept cash from residents during this transition.”

The motion, full text below, will be debated at June’s full Council meeting on Wednesday, 22 June.

“Council notes the recent closure of numerous bank branches, which is causing great distress to residents. In Horsham Town, 6 branches have closed since 2018 including TSB just a few weeks ago. Across the district, almost every branch has gone in Storrington, Steyning, Southwater, Billingshurst and Henfield. Their loss has not been compensated for by increased access to ATMs – instead, approximately 25% have been removed in the same period. Hopes that banks might provide mobile banking facilities in our car parks in some of our market towns have not been fulfilled as yet.

“Council further notes that whilst most residents are able to bank online, a significant number of vulnerable or older residents continue to rely on banking in person and access to free cash-dispensing and deposit facilities. Furthermore, for local businesses it’s often not practical to hold large amounts of cash on the premises. 

“Although these closures are a commercial decision for the banks, they have social consequences for Horsham District. A range of possible replacements for traditional banking services have already been trialled nationally by the Cash Action Group, including alternatives to banks. We ask that Council seeks to explore these and all other possible solutions where we can have influence for Horsham District.”

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