Calls to protect access to cash after Barclays announce closure of Chesterfield branch - and North East Derbyshire among the worst places for banks and ATMs in the UK

There are new calls to protect access to cash in Chesterfield after Barclays became the latest lender to announce its departure from the town.

Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 1:10 pm

On Friday, the Derbyshire Times revealed that the Barclays branch on Rose Hill will shut permanently from 12pm on August 19, 2022.

It will be the latest bank to leave Chesterfield, following the likes of Virgin Money, Royal Bank of Scotland, and TSB, which have all closed branches and departed the town centre over the past year.

News of the closure came as a shock to residents, with some now questioning whether lenders could operate under the same roof to keep building costs down and ensure customers can continue to access their cash.

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Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has responded to calls for the council to provide a building in which banks can group together and operate from

John Connaughton said: “Why don’t the banks get together and open one massive bank with a cashier for each one saves massive on costs insurance and they still provide a service. Just a thought.”

Adam Hollindale added: “Just have a single banking-services building where each firm has its own booth or window and use of hot-desking meeting-rooms.”

However, when responding to calls for the council to rent a building for banks to use, Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins said: “Its not a situation the council can lead.

“The banks need to agree it. It is a live discussion on a national basis but lots of technological and security issues.”

The Barclays Chesterfield branch on Rose Hill will shut permanently on August 19

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Analysis from consumer champion Which? has shown a sharp decline in the number of bank branches open in areas across much of the UK compared to seven years ago.

According to figures up to the end of April, six banks have closed in Chesterfield since the start of 2015, leaving eight remaining in the area – dropping to seven with the closure of Barclays.

However, figures paint a much bleaker picture in North East Derbyshire where six banks have shut since the start of 2015, leaving just one remaining.

Separate figures from LINK, a cash machine network, show there has also been a decline in the number of free-to-use ATMs across the UK in recent years.

Their data shows that between the start of 2018 and early March this year, the number of ATMs in Chesterfield dropped from 105 to 89, while in North East Derbyshire numbers fell from 42 to 28 during the same period.

North East Derbyshire is among the worst places to access to banks and ATMs in the UK, with three or fewer bank branches and 30 or fewer free-to-use ATMs.

Four in five banks in Derbyshire Dales have closed since 2015.

According to figures up to the end of April, 16 banks have been shuttered in Derbyshire Dales since the start of 2015, leaving just four remaining in the area.

Between the start of 2018 and early March this year, the number of ATMs in the Dales dropped from 37 to 29.

The increasing use of online banking and contactless payments have led to concerns some will be left behind, or unable to access key services.

Which? chief executive, Anabel Hoult, said: “While the pandemic has accelerated the move to digital payments for many consumers, many are not yet ready to make that switch and require protection from an avalanche of ATM and bank branch closures that have left the UK’s cash system at risk of collapse.”

A bill to protect access to cash was announced as part of the Queen’s Speech in May.

The Treasury says the new legislation will ensure “continued access to withdrawal and deposit facilities across the UK”.

Economic secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said: “We know that access to cash is still vital for many people, especially those in vulnerable groups.

“We promised we would protect it, and through this bill we are delivering on that promise.”

Full details on what will be included are yet to be published.

Which? welcomed the bill but said it “must ensure that clear requirements are placed on industry to meet communities’ need for cash”.

Its data found that nearly half (48%) of bank branches across the UK have closed since the start of 2015, and seven constituencies have seen every one of their bank branches closed in recent years.

And LINK says that over 13,500 free-to-use ATMs have been cut from the UK’s network – a quarter of the 54,500 in operation at the start of 2018.

Recent research by the Royal Society of Arts estimates 10 million people in the UK would struggle in a cashless society.

The research suggests the elderly and those in areas with poor mobile or broadband connectivity have suffered most in the move to digital banking.

RSA researcher Mark Hall said: “For millions of people, their relationship with cash is critical to the way they manage their weekly budget.

“It’s vital that the dash to digital doesn’t disenfranchise anyone, especially with the cost-of-living crisis putting such significant strain on family finances right now.”

Barclays is also set to close its Alfreton outlet on August 26 this year as part of a major cull of branches across the country.

Along with the Chesterfield closure, it means customers face travelling to either Sheffield, Mansfield or Derby if they wish to use counter facilities at their nearest branch.

A spokesperson for Barclays said: “The decision to close a branch is never an easy one.

"However, customers are increasingly using alternatives to branches to do their banking. As a result, we are seeing a sustained fall in branch visits across the UK.”

Reacting to the news, Mel Bacon said: “It’s blooming disgusting. Where are we supposed to bank as Chesterfield is shutting ..the nearest ones are Sheffield and Mansfield. Are Barclays going to give the bus fares or petrol money for travelling to other sites?”

Hazel Kennedy added: “Can’t see how people are using other branches because there’s none left!”

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