The closure of Lloyds Bank in Tregaron has sparked criticism from the Farmers’ Union of Wales in Ceredigion, who describe the closure as devastating news for rural businesses.
Mared Jones, the FUW’s Ceredigion County Executive Officer said: “The closure of rural banks will have a detrimental effect on the area, as they serve not only villages and small towns but many of the neighbourhoods in surrounding areas, as well as providing employment to local people.
“It will be a great loss to residents and local businesses, particularly the elderly or residents who are unable to travel to the nearest town. The closures will of course also affect small businesses, as they will have to travel further afield for their banking needs.
“Lloyds Bank was the last bank in Tregaron, which now leaves the town with no banking facilities and we are seeing banks here in Lampeter reducing their opening hours. Sadly even Barclays Bank are now only open 4 days a week.”
The FUW is particularly concerned as internet banking is not always an option in rural areas; many people will not have an appropriate internet connection- if they have a connection at all, and especially the elderly may not be familiar with IT and the process of doing their banking online.
“For many telephone banking is impractical, as they prefer to deal with their personal finances on a one-to-one basis and mobile banking is limited in many rural areas. It is worth considering as well that some people may not be able to get to mobile banks during the short time they are present in villages.
“With more and more rural services and businesses being closed down, we must also acknowledge that it is becoming less and less attractive for young families and indeed business owners to remain in the countryside.
“If the problem of rural depopulation is not addressed with some urgency it could have severe consequences for our rural communities and with that also our rural economy.
“It is clear that if we want to ensure that Wales develops its full potential in being a rural economic powerhouse, we must make it attractive for working families to stay and also encourage vital services like business banking to remain available in our countryside.
“The provision of acceptable broadband services is an increasingly critical part of meeting the needs of rural Wales,” added Mared Jones.