Closing banks in Rural Wales – Llanidloes

Yesterday, a public meeting was held at Llanidloes Town Hall. It was well attended with local residents and business people. It is clear that the announcement of Barclays’ closure has angered many people.

IMG_0222The situation so far.

Llanidloes Town Council met with Russell George AM on the 7th of August to discuss how to move forward with the situation.

Barclays has agreed to meet with both Russell George and Glyn Davies, however, what is dismaying is the fact that the bank cannot, or probably will not meet with them until the 29th of September. Also, what strikes me as infuriating is the bank’s point blank refusal to meet with any of the residents of Llanidloes to discuss the closure – I for one see this as blatant cowardice.

The bank has attempted to give reasoning for their decision to close in an online document – let’s take a look at this.

  1. 68% of customers “use the other ways of banking”well duh! Of course they do, however, this is not a reason for closing the branch. It is perfectly possible to do some banking online, i.e. transfer money or pay a bill, and then go to a branch for other banking such as pay in a cheque or cash.
  2. 51% of customers of this branch have used neighbouring branches in the last 12 months”. This statistic isn’t qualified in any way. What was the nature of the visits to the neighbouring branches? It is perfectly plausible that the 51% Barclays mention used those other branches only once as they happened to be in those towns.
  3. Between April 2016 and March 2017 there were 21,826 counter transactions at Llanidloes, compared to 26,618 the year before. On the face of it, an 18% drop in transactions is bad, however, the bank doesn’t provide enough data to show a trend – for all we know the average number of transactions might be around 21,000 per year – Barclays should be more open about this.
  4. Barclays have identified only 104 regular customers who use the branch exclusively for their banking. Again, is this a bad thing? Who doesn’t have accounts or savings in different banks? This suggest that there are more than 104 customers at Llanidloes Barclays branch. Once again, Barclays need to be clearer with the statistics here.
  5. According to Barclays change in weekly business transactions were as follows compared to the previous:
  • Counter transactions: -12%
  • Cash Withdrawals: 0%
  • Cash deposits: -13%
  • Cheque deposits: – 13%

At face value this looks terrible, until you look at the actual numbers:

  • Counter transactions: this is only 17 fewer than the previous year.
  • Cash Withdrawals: This is the same as last year
  • Cash deposits: This is only 8 fewer than the previous year
  • Cheque deposits: This is only 9 fewer than the previous year.

What came of this meeting?

First of all, it was heartening to hear that there was not one person in that meeting who was ready to accept this decision. Many raised concerns on how this will effect businesses in the area. The very idea of having to travel to Newtown to bank money is ludicrous! I mean, a 22 mile trip which can easily take well over an hour.

It is very promising to hear that the Town Council has made progress on the issue of getting more ATMs in the town through CashZone. This will make up for losing Barclays ATM come November.

The local MP certainly got a feel of the mood in the town, and was even given an idea by the people there of bringing this issue up at the Welsh Affairs select committee when Parliament convenes; an idea he hadn’t thought of prior.

Points of action for the MP:

  1. Present an Early Day Motion on the issue in Parliament (although he admitted this wouldn’t achieve much apart from drawing attention to it).
  2. Hope to win the ballot to hold a debate on the issue.
  3. Raise this case at the Welsh Affairs Committee
  4. Raise the issue with the Secretary of State for Wales in the hope that he might bring pressure in the bank not to close the branch as soon as November.

Points of action for residents of Llanidloes:

  1. Write to Barclays (name and address will be provided by the clerk of the Town Council) expressing opposition to the closure.
  2. Write to the First Minister (and I think to the local AM and Regional AMs too).
  3. Sign the petition HERE

 

 

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A sabbatical… not to concentrate on my garden I hasten to add!

After a period of silence on this blog I make my return with news of scandal! In a local politics first for this blog, what better way to dive in than on a “scandal”. News came from Llanidloes town hall that there has been misuse of funds, in particular the use of the council groundskeeper on the private garden of the town clerk.

It would seem that the council’s groundskeeper worked on the clerk’s garden while he should have been working for the town council.  The scandal, however, comes from the fact that the town council voted to “sweep the matter under the carpet”.  According to the council, accounts are audited as required, and the auditors have not called this into question.

A petition is now doing the rounds calling for  an investigation into the matter.  I wonder whether this issue is being used by individuals who happen to be standing in the 3rd of May county council election?  Hmm….

Who will win Montgomeryshire?

Montgomeryshire

With electioneering in full swing right across Wales I thought it timely to discuss the way things look in the constituency I live in.  As I have already mentioned in an earlier post, I have already cast my vote via postal ballot where I voted for David Senior (Plaid Cymru).  I believe that Plaid are the only group in the Assembly that could offer an alternative to a Labour government.  The Tories have no experience in WAG, and as for the Lib Dems, well their share of seats will either remain the same or, as expected decrease.

However, in Montgomeryshire there are two plausible outcomes to this election, either Wyn Williams, the Lib Dem candidate, or Russell George, the Tory candidate will win.  As many of you will know the Tories took the seat from the Lib Dems in the 2010 Westminster election, and so are riding high off that victory.   Lib Dems have had bad press in the area over the last few years with Lembit Opik (as seen on TV – and any other two bit reality show / tabloid newspaper) and his exploits, and of course the incident between the former AM, Mick Bates and paramedics.

The situation for the Lib Dems isn’t helped by the fact that the Tory that already represents Montgomeryshire in Westmister is a popular individual.  Glyn Davies MP (and former AM) has earned great respect amongst many in the county accross the political spectrum.  Glyn has managed to raise his profile, and that of the Tories in the county with his campaign against proposed plans for windmills and electric pylons in the county which has certainly reflected well on Russell George.

It should also be noted that it is only Russell George placards that can be seen along the roads around Llanidloes and Newtown.  I know such a sentence can easily be hyperbole, but I have literally seen no poster nor placard in support of Wyn Williams up anywhere, up to this point anyway.

So I gingerly raise my head above the parapet here to say that in my opinion it will be Russell George and Montgomeryshire Tories who will be celebrating come May 6th.