Member of the Senedd Ken Skates says his constituency should be a pilot area for the Welsh Government’s plans to create a Wales-wide community bank.
The Labour politician’s Clwyd South constituency has seen 80% of its high street banks close since 2015 – more than any other area of North Wales – and now has just one surviving branch.
Mr Skates launched the plans for a community bank during his time as Economy Minister, and this week met Banc Cambria project lead Mark Hooper to put forward the case for the area he represents to be home to one of the 30 branches initially planned.
He said: “It’s been well documented that Clwyd South is the worst-hit part of North Wales in terms of bank closures thanks to the UK Government abandoning its agreement with the sector that that last branch in each community should remain open.
“The big banks are equally as culpable and have turned their backs on our communities in much the same way the UK Government has. They have been their profits ahead of their customers’ needs. They might think that keeping a cashpoint, replacing branches with mobile banks or simply asking people to do their banking online is acceptable, but customers don’t see it that way.
“That’s why the Welsh Government launched the plans for a community bank to provide everyday banking throughout Wales.”
Mr Skates added: “There isn’t a single community in our area which hasn’t been affected by bank closures. Brymbo, Cefn Mawr, Chirk, Corwen, Rhos, Ruabon… the list goes on.
“Clwyd South spans around 240sq miles, and with the number of closures we have seen in recent years we have arguably the strongest claim of anywhere in Wales for one of the first community bank branches. I strongly believe we should have at least one branch here of the 30 planned initially. I have put the case forward as robustly as I can and will continue to make it.”
Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt, said the community bank – the first of its kind in the UK – will be ‘a mutual owned by, and run for the benefit of, its members’. The Welsh Government says the move will improve access to bilingual banking services for people and businesses, as well as create jobs.