WESTBURY Town Council’s application to host a banking hub in the High Street has been dismissed, which will come as a blow to residents who have recently signed a petition requesting a banking hub in the town.
There have been growing calls for a banking hub in the town following the closure of Westbury’s Barclays branch in May 2018 and Lloyds bank six months later. It means Westbury residents have to travel to nearby towns to complete face-to-face banking.
Banking hubs are shared spaces where different banks can operate under one roof and are operated by the Post Office; there are currently 75 banking hubs operating throughout the UK. Westbury Town Council says their application for a banking hub was dismissed due to the town already having three cashpoints.
A statement from the council reads, “Westbury Town Council have a working group dedicated to exploring options to reinstate a post office or banking facility in the High Street. To date, the group has explored a number of options, including a banking hub, the application of which was dismissed as Westbury has three cashpoints available within the town centre.
“A mobile visiting post office van was dismissed as Westbury wasn’t deemed rural enough. A post office run by the town council was suggested, but would require additional human resource, training, hardware etc which isn’t feasible.
“A visiting bank ‘surgery’ was also investigated, however, they only provide advice, not banking (or post office) services. Various reports have been submitted to the committees and the details can been found on the Westbury Town Council website.
“The post office has been clear they want to re-introduce a post office into Westbury, and so any other options that have been explored wouldn’t have their support or financial backing.”
A petition was set up by Valerie Jarvis who says that the closure of the High Street post office in January 2023, combined with the recent closure of the post office in Dilton Marsh, has impacted people’s ability to pay in cash and cheques locally.
“There is a definite need for a banking hub in Westbury,” she explained. “The closure of the post office in the High Street has made it difficult for people to pay in cash and cheques. Not everyone can do or wants to do online banking and the only place with the big three banks is going to be Trowbridge as the HSBC in Warminster is due to close this year.
“Banking hubs have different banks open on each day in the week. Not everyone has a car and some of the elder generation need face-to-face services; the best location would be on Westbury High Street.”
One comment on the petition reads, “The banks have conveniently ignored the fact that customers want face-to-face contact whilst banking and should stop trying to force everybody to bank online. Having some sort of banking/Post Office Hub is very necessary. Not everyone can bank online. Anyone who receives payment in cash cannot bank it locally. It may also help to stimulate local trade.”
Another added, “Banking services are essential to the community if cash is to survive.”
The online petition can be found at https://www.petitiononline.uk/westbury_and_ethandune_banking_hub and the paper form can be found in Westbury at The Horse and Groom, Flower Hive, Westbury Library, Cards Plus, Suave and Leighton Leisure Centre; in Dilton Marsh it is in The Weavers, The Memorial Hall and The Social Club as well as The Duke Inn, Bratton.