Loss of last bank in Axminster prompts MP call for more ‘hubs’

The loss of the last-remaining bank in Axminster has seen the town’s MP call on the government to introduce more ‘hubs’. 

Richard Foord made the call to a Westminster Hall debate on a public petition to require businesses and services to accept cash payments.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Tiverton and Honiton said people are increasingly having less access to their own money because of bank closures, writes Local Democracy Reporter Ollie Heptinstall

Mr Food raised the case of Axminster, which lost its last bank branch in November, and added that HSBC in Honiton is closing this summer.

“This issue is affecting in quite a miserable fashion some of the small businesses that depend on being able to deposit and withdraw money locally,” said Mr Foord.

“We have spent 2,000 years in this country handling real currency. Coins and, in more recent years, notes have been with us for such a long time. I am therefore alarmed that our generation might see the end of real hard currency.

“I am most concerned about the plight of older people … I get stacks of correspondence from elderly constituents who just cannot abide trying to remember the PIN for a card that they have no assurance works, and have no faith or trust is reliable.”

Mr Foord asked the economic secretary to the treasury, Andrew Griffith, when Axminster will be getting a new banking hub. Talks have been ongoing to create one, but it has yet to materialise.

Banking hubs allow customers from different banks to deposit and withdraw money. They are also visited by representatives from each bank to discuss more complicated issues.

Mr Griffith said: “There are 70 cash hubs on their way. Members throughout the House [of Commons], including a number of [Mr Foord’s] colleagues in Devon, have procured them.

“It sometimes takes a little while for them to appear because of planning issues or the need to get the right power arrangements and safe access in place for constituents.”

On the wider debate around whether Britain was becoming a cashless society, Mr Griffith said: “There is no plan, no drive and no conspiracy to eliminate cash.

“This government continues to support the ability of citizens to use cash as an alternative to digital payments, and I am proud that the government are taking legislative steps to support the use of cash well into the foreseeable future.”

He said access to cash and the ability to deposit it will be protected by law.

East Devon employment site plans aims to create hundreds of new jobs in Seaton and Axminster