Concerned residents in Skelmersdale are 'struggling to access their money' after bank branch closures have led to long queues and empty cash machines.
Two major bank branches - TSB and Barclays - have recently closed their doors for good, but while the installation of two new cash machines has been planned, there are worries that it won't be enough.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has revealed that two new cash machines could be installed at the Concourse Shopping Centre in Skelmersdale where managers are currently in talks with ATM providers.
But she blasted two major banks for closing their branches and said the new cash machines would be “no replacement for a physical bank branch".
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Rosie Cooper MP said town had been hard hit by the significant reduction of high street banking as over the past year two major banks, TSB and Barclays, had closed their Concourse branches, adding that residents had become increasingly concerned about being unable to access their cash, with people experiencing long queues at the only remaining ATMs at the Halifax branch.
She said she had raised the concerns with the shopping centre manager and asked what was being done to improve access to banking within the Concourse.
The West Lancashire MP said: “Whilst residents will be glad to hear that the Concourse are taking steps to improve access to cash, it is very sad that these cash machines are having to replace actual bank branches.
“The short sighted and selfish decision by Barclays and TSB to close their branches has left many across Skelmersdale without access to physical banking.
“The introduction of two more cash machines will be a benefit to the Concourse and its customers but is no replacement for a physical bank branch.
She added: “More good news from the Concourse is that they have now reinstated the mall seating in both the upper and lower malls, after removing it because of the Covid pandemic.”
Her concerns have been backed by Skelmersdale Birch Green resident Veronica Rea who witnessed first hand the impact on families only last weekend.
The 75-year-old told Lancs Live she had been at the Concourse last Sunday and witnessed around 20 people queueing at two cash machines which turned out to be empty.
Veronica, who is blind on the left side and has a mobility scooter, said: “It was just on one day, but I felt sorry for people . There were around 20 people. People with children had gone there to get cash but the cash machines were empty.
“There are only two in there. What if someone was desperate and needed to get some cash out? There was none there.
“Imagine if a mother has a few children with her and has to cart them all the way to Asda instead to get some money, especially if it’s pouring with rain.”
The grandmother and great grandmother added: "I want to get cash out there. I just use my card but I don’t like using the card because I lose track of what I’ve spent."
A Barclays spokesperson said: “The decision to close a branch is never an easy one. However, customers are increasingly using alternatives to branches to do their banking. As a result, we are seeing a sustained fall in branch visits across the UK.
“This was reflected at Skelmersdale branch where over four fifths (87 per cent) of our customers at the branch were also using different ways to bank.
“Following the announcement to close, we worked with our customers and provided alternative options to ensure they can continue to manage their money and receive financial expertise when required.”
The Concourse Shopping Centre, TSB and Halifax were contacted for comment.
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