'Time for banks to share a Crouch End branch'
Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison, Haringey Council
- 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.
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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.