I want to get straight to my number one priority for this year: getting more banking hubs in our towns. We’ve seen too many banks close across our four towns in recent years and last month I learnt that the Barclays in Bishop’s Stortford will be closing in April too. While some may consider this a minor issue, it significantly impacts people reliant on traditional banking services beyond what mobile apps can support. As banks increasingly shift towards online banking, their physical branches are bearing the brunt of cost-cutting measures, leaving towns worse off. Local businesses are also affected too, and might struggle to deposit or access cash, hindering both them and their customers again. Even though modern technology makes it a lot easier for many people to access banking services, they do not work for everyone. Whether it’s personal choice or practicality, having access to cash and in-person services is crucial. We are not a cashless society, and everyone still needs to visit a bank at some point.
That is why I am determined to do everything in my power to ensure access to cash is safeguarded across Hertford and Stortford. There is a solution: banking hubs. At these hubs, different banking chains use the same physical space on different days of the week. For example, on a Monday, you might see Santander, on a Tuesday, you might see HSBC, and so on. With the help of the local community, I successfully campaigned for a banking hub on Ware High Street, which will be delivered later this year.
However, current Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules mean that Shared Infrastructure Banks (SIBs) cannot be secured or requested until a town has a single banking chain remaining. As a result, we cannot fully secure a banking hub for Hertford, Sawbridgeworth or Bishop’s Stortford until other banks have closed. Whilst this may not be of concern to many now, it is better to be prepared than to be found lacking. These rules are not suited to our current situation, with banks regularly closing at a much faster rate, for many reasons.
At this time, we are unable to step in and guarantee a hub will be in place before a town loses all its banks, which can and does happen, across the country. Consequently, changing these rules is my number one priority for 2024 and I’m going to need all the support I can get. If you agree with me, please take a few moments to complete the survey on my website, juliemarson.org.uk.
As always, I will continue to work hard for you as your Member of Parliament. Please do not hesitate to contact me at julie.marson.mp@ parliament.uk – I am here to help.