Cllr Kevin Pressland: Loss of banks on high streets – good or bad?  

Banks

Green Councillor Kevin Pressland is a passionate campaigner for nature and the natural environment.  His understanding of the threats faced by the natural world is based on expertise gained from a 40-year career in horticulture, garden design and sustainable land management.

Barclays Bank in Ramsgate is to close, another example of the decline in the larger banks’ direct interaction with communities. This happened just before my recent visit to the Peak District in Bakewell where the NatWest Bank was closing. Talking to local people particularly above 70 they expressed the significant negative impact it would have for them and the community, as it will in Ramsgate.

The wave of bank closures has affected every part of the UK, with a total of 1,059 lost in England alone, plus another 88 in Scotland, 74 in Wales, 37 in Northern Ireland, and one in the Isle of Wight. Around a quarter of those closures (341) have left the surrounding community with no branch of any bank nearby. There are initiatives to create alternative combined bank outlets called Bank Hubs (see link), these are few and far between https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2022/09/more-banking-hubs-to-open-across-the-uk-to-help-people-get-acces/

Online banking does have many advantages, though the impacts to communities should be better considered. People’s ability to choose how they wish to bank should encompass flexibility and be appropriately safeguarded by authorities.

Saying that, people also should be more aware that the big banks continue in many cases to support the fossil fuel industry, mass commercial biofuel production, plastics industry, fracking etc perpetuating business as usual without appearing to think about the long term consequences of their lending. Banks like Barclays, Santander, Citi group, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Mitsubishi UFJ  are making billions of pounds in profits by enabling companies that are ripping through rainforests and turbo charging climate change and harming local communities.

They bankroll some of the most destructive companies around – beef companies like JBS clearing the Amazon, to palm oil giants like Sinar Mas destroying orangutan habitat in Indonesia and the intricate diverse ecosystem they live in. These ecosystems are also massive carbon sinks and affect weather patterns including rain essential for crops etc. NatWest sadly continues to support fracking abroad. HSBC continues investing in the Oil Industry as do others.

There are alternative banks with more ethos that are part of ‘The Global Alliance on Banking on Values’  https://www.gabv.org/ These banks pride themselves in the highest levels of sustainability. These values encompass lending to organic farming/horticulture, regenerative farming, community energy initiatives, eco housing, social enterprises that improve lives of the disabled and mental health etc.

Please consider changing your bank to help make a positive difference in society and the world.

This article is an edited version of the original

34 Comments

  1. All this is true and instead of shouting the odds about a defunct airfield it might be better to make the growing number of banking deserts a campaign issue for the politicians when they come calling later on this year.
    Santander and others have had the gall to complain about Nationwide’s latest ad campaign, saying it was not fair to portray large banks in a negative light. Well, I have a message for those banks, and it is your standing with the ordinary person on the street (I won’t say Clapham omnibus, because buses are going the same way as local banks) remains very low and shows no sign of improvement. De-banking and moving online will not improve your image.The banking hubs have not materialised as promised, because as always in Broken Britain large organisations never cooperate or work in the public interest, and the current govt is too pusillanimous to do anything to force them to create more banking hubs.
    I don’t think it is appropriate or wise for Cllrs to recommend financial instutions online or otherwise, and to do so might be in breach of the Code of Conduct. Cllr Pressland might be receiving a letter from TDC for this.

    • It might be a code of conduct issue had Cllr Pressland a financial interest in the financial bodies he’s recommending but that is still a “might”.
      It seems to be correct and honourable for Cllr’s to recommend decent institutions that benefit their electorate and communities. Surely that’s part of their role?
      Aside from this it’s pretty small beer either way when you compare it to the billions of our pounds that our government has made over to their friends and family, the billions they continue not to take in proper taxation of large companies, the billions given to many companies in grants and sweeteners while all the while blaming our woes on refugees and the poor.

      • Barclays are deserting their loyal customers; businesses and individuals in Ramsgate. Which now means they will no longer have a presence in the whole of Thanet ( population 120,000 and fast rising . This is an abysmal decision , they often / usually do not have a cash desk open and just point to the ATMs . Crazy idea and the Board of Directors should be removed asap at the next AGM

  2. I think Councillor Pressland’s point is well made. If everyone pulls their money out of banks who fund companies destroying the planet then they will be forced to change tack. Exactly the advice I would expect a Green Party member to give in the absence of any kind of environmental leadership from the Tories or Labour.

    What’s the problem ?

  3. Standard Charter fined 48 million for failing to apply to the PRA also fined 180 million for money laundering. Yet this bank is allowed to sponsor a premier league club !!. Big money has no honour

  4. I do believe that labels should be put on ALL goods (not just food), saying how many air miles are involved in getting it to a store? Do we really need slightly tastier apples from South Africa or cheaper meat from New Zealand when we can produce it here in Kent?

    • Air miles are only part of the issue here. It’s entirely possible that the carbon footprint of food from places like Thanet Earth are higher than importing it from other countries due to the massive energy consumption involved in running these local greenhouses all year round v growing produce naturally. The food miles are generally only a small part of the problem.

    • That might be difficult and having signed up to Brexit we are now doing lots of really good trade deals with other countries,ask Kemi Badenoch.As someone who used to make sure your south African apples and New Zealand meat arrived in tip top condition,I can tell you that what has been started cannot be stopped,thanks to the idiocy of the past 14 years.
      Of course if everyone wants to change tack and sign up to a customs union with Europe no? I thought not
      Cllr Pressland’s recommendations are fine, if he was acting as Mr Pressland, but Clrs should not, and as he is an account holder of both banks, that counts as having an interest, maybe even a pecuniary interest.

      • The usual snide comments Mr Nokes. So you made sure that South African apples and New Zealand meat arrived in tip top condition bully for you! As for Cllr Pressland good for him! I’m sure he is more community minded than you have been sniping all the time! By the way where were you and when were you a Cllr again?

        • The only snide comment is yours.What you don’t like is outcomes being linked to deeds.As for getting your apples and meat by sea,I can tell you it was not without cost.Every year seafarers died doing just that and you don’t have the right to criticise those who risked their lives doing so.Even today seafarers are shot at,held hostage and attacked with missiles, just so you can go to the shops and buy something.

          • You know full well I was not criticising seafairers! You as usual did not explain what you did! I am well aware what the men and women of the Merchant Navy do and have done in past conflicts having relatives who have done the same work! As for snide comments you are king on here. I suggest you get back in your box as you seem to be an expert in everything! Going back to Kevin Presslands comments, keep up the good work if he wishes to advise people in his capacity as a Councillor let him do it without no all no nothing comments from you the so called expert on local government and the world in general!

          • I do not think Mr Nokes or anybody else is obliged to give personal details to people he doesn’t know, especially if they are aggressive and rude to him.

  5. Changing to the Coop Bank isn’t much good if you’re not able to do on-line banking.
    Their nearest branch is Lewisham!

    • That is a very valid point.

      And if we are supposed to be protecting the environment – think of the amount of petrol needed to drive up there – or even the amount of electricity if you go by train . . .

      Fortunately I can still WALK to the Nationwide in the High Street so there is my environmental consideration !

  6. I am a bit worried by the way things are going. It’s not too bad if you’re tech savvy and don’t mind using online banking. But there are plenty of folk who can’t or won’t use this new fangled technology.
    We are assured that we can use a Post Office branch for some activities, such as paying in cash or cheques.
    Fine, until the Post Office branch closes.

    I had a look at transferring my account to the Coop. It does seem quite straightforward, but I’m a bit anxious – what if it all goes wrong, and my money disappears down an electronic black hole, or my Council Tax DDs don’t get paid?

    So, I’ve done the next best thing – I’ve transferred most of the cash out of my current account, and put it in my Coop ISA.

    • Phyllis, I don’t want to be seen acting for Coop Bank but transferring your account would be protected by your originating bank and the destination bank. This should include all your regular payments.
      You might have to re-set some payments and you’d probably have to re-set all the payments coming into your old account to the new one.
      Good luck with it.

  7. There is no point in having a debate with angry Laurence the reform minded critic of everything he sees as woke.
    I have never said I am an expert on anything but I have had a varied life, where I have done many things.I am not sure about Laurence as he seems fixed in his ideas.I have 50 years experience of local govt, but that does not make me an oracle.
    What Kevin Pressland says is fine, but as a Cllr he needs to take care, so I was trying to assist and not criticise him.I know it is pulling Laurence’s strings to know my background, not doubt so he and his sad mates can troll with impunity, so I choose not to engage on that basis.
    As for Phyllis perhaps she could try a building society that has local branches and an online presence.
    If Credit unions were getting a bashing in this cost of living crisis I would suggest a Thanet scheme.I agree with Kevin that the next government should tackle this problem with some grip.

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