'Time for banks to share a Crouch End branch'

A National Westminster Bank branch (NatWest) logo in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

NatWest is closing its branch in Crouch End and Hornsey - Credit: PA Images

I was alarmed and disappointed to hear of NatWest’s decision to close their Crouch End and Hornsey branch this coming November, which will also include the loss of the free-to-use ATMs.

Hundreds of people in the area still rely on in-person banking services, particularly the elderly, small businesses, charities and those on lower incomes. This closure will remove a vital local service.

However, due to longstanding trends on the high street, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, banks are finding branches increasingly uneconomical to run.

As the Crouch End councillors, we have therefore written to NatWest asking them to consider a "bank hub" model, which have already been introduced elsewhere in the country.

Under this model multiple banks would operate out of the same site, each for one day per week.

Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison. Picture: Haringey Lib Dems

Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison suggests creating a BankHub in Crouch End - Credit: Archant

The Crouch End branch of Santander (one of the banks working with NatWest in the bank hub model elsewhere) was also closed not long before the pandemic, and I note with concern the possibility of other banks removing their local branches too in the near future.

A hub model could therefore work well for local banks and building societies, allowing them to retain a presence on our high street, but without shouldering the full costs of running a branch.

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Post Offices currently provide visitors with a similar offering, but the range of services available is far more limited than bank branches, and are often not the services people need to use a branch for. These services, for instance changing your accounts following a change of name, are also often those which are unable to be completed online or via mobile banking apps.

A bank hub set-up would allow banks to balance a sense of social responsibility with their duty to shareholders and, I believe, would be mutually beneficial for NatWest, other banks, and the residents of Crouch End and Hornsey. I hope that NatWest will consider this proposal for our area further, and look to work with other local banks to bring forward a scheme that would maintain NatWest’s high street services and presence in Crouch End.

Cllr Luke Camley-Harrison is leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Haringey Council.