Lloyds decision to close Buckingham branch leaves town without a bank

Shock at news but announcement of a shared Banking Hub brings ray of hope
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Lloyds Banking Group has announced it is closing its Buckingham branch, leaving the town with no bank.

The Market Hill branch, which is listed for closure in September, is one of 60 branches Lloyds plans to shut this year.

Lloyds says, following an in-depth review, the branch will close on September 9, and suggests customers use the Brackley branch.

The opening of the Banking Hub in RochfordThe opening of the Banking Hub in Rochford
The opening of the Banking Hub in Rochford

MP for Buckingham Greg Smith called the decision "deeply irresponsible".

Mr Smith Tweeted: "The Lloyds Bank decision to close the last bank in Buckingham is deeply disappointing and I urge them to reconsider. I get it that most of us go online and don't use branches any more. But many still DO rely on branches and Lloyds are deeply irresponsible to be closing this one."

Buckingham councillor Warren Whyte said: "As a personal and charity customer of Lloyds, I am devastated to hear this news.

"I've found the Buckingham staff to always be helpful and accommodating, and only today they helped sort out a transaction for me that could not be done online.

"I am also disappointed that I find out on social media, and not advised as a customer or councillor.

"I truly hope Lloyds reconsider their assessment of the Buckingham branch as the data given is only during the two years of the Covid pandemic, which is hardly illustrative of normal bank usage, and the alternative at Brackley is not the easiest place to get to without a car, and Stony Stratford is also being proposed to be shut."

However, it was also announced today that Buckingham is now set to become one of 10 towns to benefit from a new shared Banking Hub.

LINK, the UK’s cash access and ATM network, has announced Buckingham as one of the latest towns eligible for the scheme.

Banking Hubs are a new concept where different banks work together to provide banking services in a high street location, with a front counter run by the Post Office offering basic cash withdrawal, deposits and bill payments, and personal bankers from various banks available on different days of the week for more specialised services.

Following a successful pilot scheme, two Banking Hubs are already operating successfully in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, and Rochford, Essex, with five more set to open this year.

Buckingham is one of three more towns just announced as meeting the criteria for a new shared banking hub - bringing the total to 10 - following LINK’s latest recommendations.

LINK CEO John Howells said: “While the way people are banking and paying for things is changing, we also know that there are millions of consumers who are still dependent on cash, so LINK’s work is vital to ensure that free access to cash is maintained where it is needed by consumers.”

A report on the Banking Hub pilot scheme, published in December, says: "The two communities where we deployed Banking Hubs, Rochford and Cambuslang, credit the Hub for supporting economic regeneration of their towns and for keeping retailers viable.

"Consumers talked about the safety it provides, the money and time it saved and some described it as ‘life changing’.

"The Banking Hubs similarly saved small businesses money and appeared to support growth in the local economy as people did their shopping more locally, with one trip to both shop and manage their cash.

"As a result, the two Banking Hubs have already been extended until at least the spring of 2023."

A Lloyds Bank spokesperson said: “Just like many other high street businesses, fewer customers are choosing to visit our branches.

"Our branch network is an important way for us to support our customers, but we need to adapt to the significant growth in customers choosing to do most of their everyday banking online.

"When our Buckingham branch closes in September, a new Banking Hub has been recommended for the town.

"Customers will also be able to use the local Post Office at The Old Gingerbread House, where there is also an ATM.”