Leeds mass branch closures set to leave thousands with no banks at all

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The thriving Leeds suburb of Horsforth once laid claim to being England’s largest village and, until recently, its 22,000 residents were served by several branches.

But in the past 18 months, Lloyds, Santander, Virgin, Barclays the Bank of Scotland and NatWest have closed their doors.

And its last two banks, HSBC and Halifax, are due to shut up shop in the coming weeks.

That will force residents to travel seven miles into Leeds city centre, or 15 miles to Harrogate, to get some personal service.

Meanwhile, the recent closure of three Post Offices has also hit hard.

Despite offering only the most basic of banking services, lengthy queues form outside the last remaining branch.

Horsforth is home to large numbers of retired people.

Former legal secretary Dee Clark, 75, used the same local branch for 54 years, but now endures a two hour round trip to Harrogate to carry out her financial affairs.

She said: “It is absolutely disgusting that they are just allowed to close without any thought for their customers’ needs. I don’t like online banking, I’m frightened about being scammed so don’t use it.

“The people making these decisions should look at all the elderly people.

“I have spoken to my MP but in reality what good does that do?

“And all these closed premises are horrible. Horsforth used to be lovely but they just make the place look tatty.”

The suburb also has a small business sector that still relies heavily on in-person banking bringing people into town.

One company claimed it has suffered a 15 per cent drop in customers as a result of the closures. Butcher Andrew Reeves, 52, who has worked in Horsforth for more than two decades, says the bank closures are making business “tough”.

He added: “A lot of footfall has gone. Traditionally people would pop out to do their banking and stop here for their meat – but now it’s all online. I reckon footfall is down by 10 to 15 per cent.

“This is such a nice street and should be jam-packed but the closures have depleted it so badly. We want it to be bustling and everyone shopping local but its sadly going the other way.”

Self-employed outdoor activity instructors Andrew Taylor, 35, and Tanya Joy, 36, still need to pay in cash and carry out business transactions.

Andrew said: “It’s really unfair. We will find it difficult but I know it really impacts on the older generation. We now have to help my grandfather do online banking.

Rachal Ross “I really think banks should be obliged to keep open a certain number of branches.”

Tanya added: “We have popped out to visit the bank but we’ll then grab a coffee in a local cafe.

“If we hadn’t needed the bank then that’s two extra customers that business isn’t getting either. It affects everything.”

Cafe owner Lucy Todd said: “The HSBC is virtually next door and a lot of people go there before coming here. When it closes it’s going to make things a lot more difficult for us.”

Nursery owner Rachal Ross, 46, added: “It really is incredible just how quickly banks have vanished. They all seemed busy.

“But if they cannot survive here, what hope is there in other places?”

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