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Skipton MP says HSBC 'don't seem to care' about small town banks

Friday, 16 December 2022 15:25

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

Skipton's Conservative MP, Julian Smith, has criticised HSBC after the banking giant announced it will close its branch in the town.

Last month, Skipton - along with Settle - was included on a list of 114 locations that will close from April 2023 due to a decline in people using physical banks in favour of banking online.

Skipton’s HSBC is set to close in June 2023 with no confirmed date yet for Settle.

At a meeting of councillors on the Skipton & Ripon area committee yesterday, Conservative councillor for Settle and Ribblebanks, David Staveley, asked Mr Smith if he could lobby HSBC to try and find a solution so residents can still access a physical banking service.

Cllr Staveley described the HSBC branch in Settle as “the last horse in the town” due to closure of every other bank.

But Mr Smith said it was unlikely that HSBC would change its mind. He said: “It’s a real shame they pulled out. HSBC seems to focus on the Asia as a market and I’m skeptical of our ability to change financial institutions. I don’t think we’ll get them to stay. They don’t seem to care”.

Concerns about banking services in the city of Ripon were raised by Conservative member for Wathvale & Bishop Monkton division, Nick Brown, who said many older residents still rely on physical branches so they can bank with cash.

HSBC will retain its presence in Ripon but Halifax and Barclays have closed their branches in the city this year. Cllr Brown said: “There was talk in the banking industry of hubs, especially for older people to get cash, but I’ve heard very little about it from the banks. At the end of day these banks want you to use cards. I’m old fashioned and I like paying for things with cash. We need to protect the elderly who want to use that method of paying for goods”.

Mr Smith said utilising post offices or assets owned by local government to provide banking services could be the future for banking in smaller towns and cities. He added:

“Trying to build resilience around our community assets is the way ahead. Frankly, I don’t trust some of these companies. We could work on HSBC to stay then have the same problem in six months time.”

A HSBC spokesperson said: “We never take a decision to close a branch lightly. We have carried out a thorough review of every location and unfortunately, some branches are no longer sustainable.

“We aren’t giving branch-by-branch details, but this could be due to reduced footfall in addition to other factors that might be taken into account like the property’s lease conditions, proximity to other branches.

“Customers are continuing to migrate from physical to digital banking and footfall in our branches is at an all-time low, with no signs of it returning, while digital adoption and usage is soaring. Banking remotely is becoming the norm and we need to take action to make sure we have a sustainable branch network that is fit for the future”.

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