Harrow’s Labour MP Gareth Thomas has announced plans to accelerate the rollout of “banking hubs” across the country in response to the closure of the last two banks on Northolt Road, which left hundreds of local residents calling for a Bank Hub in South Harrow.
However, the initiative faces challenges, as LINK, the UK’s main cash machine network, has deemed South Harrow unsuitable for a banking hub due to its proximity to Harrow Town Centre and existing banks.
Despite this setback, Thomas and James Murray, Labour MP for South Harrow, remain committed to providing easy access to face-to-face banking services for residents in South Harrow, Rayners Lane, North Greenford, Northolt, and surrounding areas. They argue that the current criteria for banking hubs primarily cater to rural areas, and there is insufficient focus on urban areas. The Financial Conduct Authority is currently consulting on criteria changes to address this issue.
To garner support for the cause, residents are encouraged to participate in the Financial Conduct Authority’s consultation, which can be accessed through their website. Gareth Thomas MP stressed the unique impact of bank closures on an area of 70,000 people and 147 retailers in South Harrow, as well as neighboring wards with no banks.
In response to the challenges faced by communities like South Harrow, the Labour Party has unveiled its plans to accelerate the rollout of banking hubs. These hubs will provide services such as cash deposits and withdrawals, along with wider banking support. Labour intends to collaborate with banks and potentially grant new powers to the Financial Conduct Authority to prevent the emergence of “banking deserts” and ensure access to face-to-face banking services.
Gareth Thomas MP expressed concern that many individuals prefer in-branch banking and are uncomfortable with online banking. He 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.”