Save the Last Bank in Knaresborough
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Knaresborough is a historic Market Town in North Yorkshire. It has a growing population of over 15,500, with a higher than average number over the age of 65 and is home to a large number of independent shops, galleries, cafes, bars, restaurants and small businesses.
Famed for its stunning Viaduct river views, it is an increasingly popular tourist destination and is home to England's oldest visitor attraction, an ancient forest and a medieval former Royal castle. Further more it has one of the country's oldest chartered markets, which still takes place in the Market Square every Wednesday. It was also the setting for 2019 American movie 'A Very British Christmas'.
Travel blogger, The Crave Traveler recently described the town as the most beautiful in England, commenting "If there is one city/town/village outside of London you visit, it HAS to be Knaresborough ..."
Knaresborough hosts a number of popular public events, including the annual Bed Race, FEVA, Party in the Castle and Christmas Market and this year a 1940's living history event on VE Day. These attract tens of thousands of people to the town.
Knaresborough is also home to Henshaws Arts and Crafts Centre, where every week almost 170 disabled art makers visit to take part in creative workshops. This centre has ambitious plans for expansion in the coming years and as a town we are working towards making Knaresborough more accessible.
In the past few years Knaresborough has lost 6 Banks/Building Societies and ATMs. Now Halifax have announced that they will be closing the last remaining Bank in the town, along with the branch's two cash machines (for which there is usually a queue). We will also lose Knaresborough's only talking ATM. This will significantly impact the town's 600 businesses, 15,500+ residents and national and international tourists, many of whom still rely on cash.
Whilst the Knaresborough Halifax Bank branch staff are excellent, the organisation itself has missed an opportunity to capitalise on its position as the last remaining bank in the town, instead choosing to systematically reduce branch opening hours and services and allow the building exterior to become shabby. As the only option locally, a targeted marketing campaign could have seen them increase the number of current accounts and mortgages held with the Bank, thereby increasing the profitability of the branch. Further more they have failed to look ahead to the mortgage opportunities presented by around 1,500 new houses in various stages of construction in Knaresborough.
What impact will this Halifax Bank closure have ...
1) If local government is trying to discourage car use and decrease congestion, we need to make sure local populations are adequately provided for. If people can't access the services they need locally, they will get in their cars and travel elsewhere. There is also much construction going on in Knaresborough, with around 1,500 new houses planned in the coming years, so the population of the town will be increasing significantly.
2) 'Shopping local' is more environmentally friendly and is something which we should be encouraging wherever possible if we are to meet the government's carbon targets.
3) Knaresborough's impulse purchase shops (such as card and gift shops) have seen a significant decrease in footfall since the banks began to close, as people go elsewhere to do their banking and make such purchases whilst doing so. This situation will worsen once the last bank has closed, impacting our entire local economy and potentially forcing small businesses to close.
4) A higher than average proportion of our residents are older and still rely on cash and branch services. Many are unable to travel to other branches or bank online. 35% of people who use the Knaresborough branch are over 65, with 18% being over 75. With increasing levels of isolation in our communities, bank branches also play a vital support and socialisation role for older customers and those most vulnerable in our community.
5) There are still a number of cash only businesses in Knaresborough. Often this is outlets such as ice cream booths and fruit and veg shops who sell very low value items with a small spend per transaction. The transaction fees charged don't make accepting card payments a viable business proposition. Some businesses in town also experience poor internet connectivity, meaning that credit card machines can be unreliable and ready access to cash is vital as a backup for customers.
6) We have a thriving traditional Wednesday Market and a number of large scale town events throughout the year, such as the Bed Race, Party in the Castle, FEVA and Christmas Market. These attract a disproportionate amount of visitors for the size of our town (as many as 20,000 over the course of the Christmas Market weekend for instance). We already experience issues with our three remaining town cash machines running out of cash on Market Day and during such events and will be down to two for future events, neither of which are in the central Market Place.
7) We have many tourists visiting the town, especially during the summer months and as a town we have plans to build on this further, so need the infrastructure to support a range of visitor's needs.
8) The Post Office cannot cope with the increased demand which has resulted from all the bank closures in the town. In the winter months you can queue for over half an hour. This is not viable for small businesses who have to close their shops or premises to go and do their banking. The alternative is to go to Harrogate, often an hour round trip during working hours.
9) Retail businesses in the town struggle to get change for their tills.
10) We will be down to just two cash machines in the town centre (Tesco Express and Sainsbury's Local). Neither of these are in the central Market Square. They are also managed by third parties, meaning that staff have no access to fill them up if they run out of cash.
Please sign our petition today and join us in calling on Halifax to reconsider and the government to pass legislation to stop the last bank in a town closing. This decision doesn't just affect Halifax customers, but our entire local economy, those most vulnerable in our community and the town's plans for future growth.
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