'Bank-less' future for Harrogate district town?

Closed - Barclays on the High Street in Knaresborough
Closed - Barclays on the High Street in Knaresborough

The once unthinkable prospect of a bank-less future for a Harrogate district town has come a step closer.

Last week’s closure of Barclays on the High Street in Knaresborough has been condemned by all shades of opinion in the town.

President of the Knaresborough Chamber of Trade, Steve Teggin said: “Anyone under 65 is usually a bit savvy on technology but old people, disabled people and the visually impaired are just getting forgotten about. The Government saw this coming and have done nothing.”

Climate change pupils 'strike' in Harrogate

Knaresborough County Councillor David Goode, who has lived in Knaresborough for 27 years, said: “This closure further heightens Knaresborough residents’ concerns that if Halifax closes then Knaresborough will be left with no banks.

“This leaves Knaresborough residents with major problems with having to travel into Harrogate to access bank branch services.”

Local councillor Ed Darling, who represents Knaresborough town centre, said: “Barclay’s decision to leave Knaresborough will leave our community and our town centre worse off.

“Over the last couple of years we have already seen the closures of three banks in our town centre and now to have a fourth leave will impact on services for residents and visitors.

"I understand the point that we need to use facilities in order for them to be viable but I also think that banks should explore more effective partnership working models to diversify the services offered from their branches and appeal to a broader customer base.

"However, I want to reassure residents that I am already working with ATM providers LINK to look at how we can replace the ATMs that we have lost in the town centre in recent years."

As to what happens next, some hope to encourage Knaresborough people to safeguard the Halifax by using it more.

Others hope the Post Office will step into the breach.

And Coun David Goode is calling for the Knaresborough public to back a change in the law.

He said: "The Barclays experience shows that when a remote decision-making body focused on maximising profit over customer care decides to close a branch, with no consultation with the local community, then it’s almost impossible to get the decision overturned.

"Without a change in regulations nationally to force a legal duty of care on Banks to avoid the closure of the last branch in a community, then we will continue to lose bank branches at an alarming rate..

"For the Government to take notice it will need an outcry from communities across the country saying enough is enough.

"So write letters to Government and MP’s, visit your MP’s surgery and ask for a change in banking regulations that stops banks being able to close branches and leave rural communities, disabled, elderly and low income families with little or no access to banking services."

Famous Harrogate shop 'overwhelmed' by messages of support