Hello there. Hope you’re feeling well today.Sometimes in this blog inspiration comes in the most surprising of moments. I was going to write nothing today. The sun was shining (unusually for February it was a spring day) and there was really nothing else to say. Especially as I was no where near finishing any of the four books I’m currently reading (most poncey statement I’ll probably make this week but there you are).
But yesterday I had this conversation which for whatever reason led to the issue of bank closures in Porthcawl. The Natwest I mentioned before closed last year. It’s turned into of all things a betting shop. So if I have my sums right there are three bank branches left….but not for long.
For Barclays Bank in February announced the closure of it’s branch.
And what the guy said to me about the situation in Porthcawl was that already some small traders find themselves running out of change because people go to a cashpoint machine, find that the lowest amount of money it will give them is £10. They will then go to a shop, buy the cheapest thing they can see, say “sorry don’t have anything smaller” (which of course would be true) and thus the shopkeeper’s stock of small change dwindles.
For these small shop owners to get change they would have to drive to Bridgend Town go to the branch there, get a lot of money in change (making them venerable to mugging) and drive back to Porthcawl. This operation would take at the very least the best part of an hour.
You might say “Why don’t they change their bank branch?” A statement that’s not unreasonable but for all we know a particular business might for example have a loan with Barclays or Natwest so things are not so simple or clear cut.
Now I know full well that bank closures are occurring across Britain. But what makes Porthcawl’s situation relatively unique is that it’s a seaside town and so come the summer months this small change situation will increase when tourists and day trippers arrive. Indeed irony of irony if we’re lumbered with the long dark Brexit of the soul then Porthcawl actually might profit given that people would stay in Britain during the holiday period.
And with timing that could almost be described as malevolent the Barclays Bank branch is set to close in May.
Let me reiterate one point before I go on. I’m not talking about the big chains (relatively few) or even the arcades. I’m talking about the bakers, the many cafes, the gift shops. Small businesses. Businesses that do a lot of their turnover in cash. Businesses that banks bent over backwards to in trying to get their custom. Announcing the closure in February and closing in May does not give these businesses enough time to plan for this situation.
So whilst the best option is for Barclays to completely stop this closure at the very least there is a case to postpone it until the autumn thus giving businesses an opportunity to know what they will need to prepare for for the future taking into account summer business.
It will also give the opponents of the closure another chance to fight to have it stopped of course.
And of course the greatest irony is that the Porthcawl situation shows that even in a supposedly card based cashless contactless society the old way that is cash is still needed in this day and age.
Until the next time.