The following article was originally published in the North Wales Weekly News newspaper on 14 December 2016
December has brought bad news for customers of High Street banks, with a number of closures announced across North Wales, including two in Clwyd West: the HSBC branch in Abergele and the National Westminster in Ruthin. Locally, the NatWest in Conwy will also be closing, leaving the town with no bank at all.
I have spoken to officials of the HSBC and National Westminster. Both banks are keen to explain that alternative provisions will be made to serve the needs of customers. However, no matter how good the new arrangements, they will not be as convenient as having a dedicated branch in town.
It seems that banking, like most other areas of modern commercial life, has fallen victim to the rise of the internet. Increasingly few of us are actually entering the portals of our local banks. We use less cash, and what cash we do use is withdrawn from a hole-in-the-wall machine. We use cheques increasingly infrequently, preferring to pay our bills with a few taps on our smartphones. So it’s hardly surprising that banks are closing: it isn’t profitable for them to stay open.
Of course, this is little comfort to elderly citizens who haven’t yet got to grips with the internet. It’s also a pain for traders who need to handle large quantities of cash.
The internet is also a threat to the viability of our independent shops. More and more of us are buying online. But if we value our local shops, we need to use them more often or they, too, will close. I was therefore delighted by the level of participation in the Small Business Saturday event at Rhos on Sea a couple of weeks ago. It was a hugely successful day and all the traders were pleased with it.
Independent shops such as those in Rhos have a huge amount to offer, both in terms of quality and convenience. They really care for their customers, and are vital to local communities.
If want want vibrant High Streets in our towns and villages, and don’t want our excellent independent shops to go the way of the banks, we really should put our iPads down, get off our bottoms, and start buying locally.
At the May 2015 General Election, David was re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Clwyd West, with an increased majority of 6,730.