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MP Calls for Community Reinvestment Act after Branch Closures in Otley and Yeadon

Alex Sobel has called for a Community Reinvestment Act to save UK bank branches from closure after the announcement that Santander was closing two branches in Otley and in Yeadon.

Santander have announced the closure of branches on Kirkgate, Otley on 16th May and High Street, Yeadon on 25th July.

This follows a wide range of bank closures in Leeds North West. Yeadon town centre has previously lost Yorkshire Bank and Nat West; Adel has lost Nat West; Headingley has lost Barclays, Yorkshire, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander whilst the market town of Otley, which serves a wider rural catchment has lost Nat West, HSBC, TSB and most recently Barclays.

Alex Sobel believes that these closures should result in action from the UK Government.

Alex Sobel said, “Small local businesses depend on small, local branches for lending and the loss of a local branch has a very real effect on the ability of a local business to acquire investment.”

“It is not just investment that a local business will lose when a bank closes. The closure of a bank is one more contributing factor to the demise of the high street. This means lower footfall and fewer customers, leading to fewer local businesses and fewer local jobs. Rural trade and businesses depend on local towns to do their banking and they will instead be forced into urban centres, which will have a detrimental effect on their productivity and therefore their profitability.”

“We must take our lead from the United States, where as far back as 1977 they introduced the Communities Re-Investment Act, which requires banks to invest in every area in which they are chartered and seeks to provide communities with access to lending. We must look to community banking and seek to reward banks and Credit Unions that have community reinvestment at the heart of their constitutions.”

Speaking after the announcement of the closures in Otley and Yeadon, Mr Sobel said, “I am very concerned. Whilst I understand that many local branches are less frequently used nowadays, they are still greatly depended upon by local businesses, as well as for people who prefer to do their banking face to face. Often these are elderly or vulnerable customers.

Bank branches are a vital part of a thriving high street and I worry for our communities when we see branches closing at such a rate.

Otley and Yeadon benefit economically from people and businesses coming from all over Wharfedale and Aireborough to use the branches.

There is an environmental cost too, as potential customers will be forced to travel further afield.

I will be seeking a meeting with Santander as soon as possible to seek assurances about the future for staff and customers.”


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