FURNESS MP John Woodcock has obtained a pledge from the government to consider directing post offices to install extra cash machines in towns like Ulverston that face bank closures.
On January 23 Santander gave notice that it was shutting its New Market Street office from May 30, putting five staff at risk of redundancy and creating concern among customers who had relied on the outlet for years.
Since then Mr Woodcock held a public meeting at the Coronation Hall in Ulverston where people expressed concern that Santander’s closure would damage local businesses by removing a much-needed ATM from the high street. Town clerk Jayne Kendall pointed out that cash-only market traders would particularly suffer.
A senior Post Office official at the meeting pledged to look into whether the company would agree to offset this loss by installing a similar machine outside the County Square branch.
But Mr Woodcock, who led a campaign to prevent Ulverston post office closing, has taken the demand to government, given the post office network remains publicly owned.
Citing the government’s pledge to ensure communities have sufficient access to cash, Mr Woodcock said in parliament yesterday (Thursday): “One of the big issues with Santander going from Ulverston is that the cash machine will go as well. We have a post office without a cash machine. That will really damage Ulverston, which is a fabulous market town. On festival days there are huge queues at existing cash machines. Can the government direct the Post Office to increase its cash machines in such areas?”
Banking minister John Glen responded: “I am very happy to look into that.”
Mr Woodcock also told MPs that a levy should be put in place for high street banks, to make sure that financial institutions are rooted in their communities.
Mr Woodcock said: “At the (Coronation Hall) meeting I was impressed to hear from individuals such as the mayor of Ulverston, Dave Webster, who says he has tracked his finances over the years as more and more banks have closed, and will do so again as a Santander customer moving to branch of a bank that is prepared to have its roots in the town centre. It is good to have the Cumberland Building Society there, which prides itself on keeping footfall in the area. Let us vote with our feet and for institutions that are prepared to root themselves in our area.”