Save our banks - North Yorks town fights back

A strong message has been issued to Knaresborough residents and businesses as the battle is stepped up to create a successful future for the town's high street - "use your local bank - and all its services."

Barclays branch in Knaresborough.

When Santander closes its doors on September 28 it will leave only two banking branches in the town centre.Though both Barclays and the Halifax have stressed to Knaresborough Town Council member David Goode they have no plans to close in future, the former mayor says it is vital Knaresborough retains them.

Coun Goode said: "It's more than saying 'use it or lose it'. Banks are there to sell a full range of services such as investments and mortgages and business start-ups."If you look at some other towns, all their banks have gone already. It can happen."When banking goes it not only effects local traders directly but can have an extra knock-on effect on local shops. It isn't just the time and trouble of travelling."People who have to go to Harrogate to do their banking, then tend to shop in Harrogate while they're there."

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Fears over the potential impact to the local economy should the town lose all of its bank branches are shared by Knaresborough Chamber of Trade & Commerce.Its treasurer Bill Taylor said at the moment there may be as many as 200 businesses in thwe town centre which still used cash and cheques, though not all of these banked with Barclays or the Halifax.

He said the town would adapt successfully to any challenges no matter what happened in future, even if it were to lose it banks, and the chamber would be working hard to minimise the disruption to local traders in any eventuality.But the emphasis was on retaining Knaresborough's two remaining banks.

He said: "News of Santander's closure plans really brought home the issue to us."The chamber of trade expect to be discussing things with the banks to see what their strategy is in Knaresborough and to see if the town's usage of their Knaresborough branches can be increased."Banks offer lots of added value services to businesses. We need to make sure the branches don't have to close."

As for the banks left in Knaresborough, they seem keen to encourage the town to show it needs the services it offers.One of them, Barclays, is on the record as being happy to get more involved in the community.

Adam Moore, Barclays manager for the Harrogate Aarea, said: “At Barclays Knaresborough we continue to welcome customers into the branch while also understanding that many are choosing to use a broader range of channels to access their banking such as mobile, online and telephone services. "We constantly review the way customers prefer to undertake their banking and our colleagues at the branch are on hand to help customers with their ongoing banking needs.”