Banking on Calderdale - a Halifax Courier campaign

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As more branches are set to close, the Courier launches an in-depth campaign looking at the banking crisis in Calderdale and asking what can be done to halt the decline amid growing fears some parts of the borough are becoming 'ghost towns'.

For many people their cheque book is collecting dust as the switch to mobile and online banking continues apace.

The falling number of branch visitors has led to a rise in bank closures across the country, leaving those without internet access or those who would prefer face-to-face consultations behind.

Elland, Sowerby Bridge and, from next year, Hebden Bridge: three towns with rich histories left without a single bank.

These changes in banking habits have led to fears some areas will become ghost towns.

Councillor Barry Collins, deputy leader of Calderdale Council, recognises the challenge of keeping a balance between new and old in our towns.

“In the past banks and building societies were absolutely key parts of the kind of civic identity. Instead what we have now is large and imposing buildings standing empty.

“The banks have a role to play - they have a community responsibility as well as a business responsibility.

“We cannot turn our backs on the modern world but at the same time we have to make sure our people can live their lives effectively.”

1944 banks and building societies have closed nationwide since 2015.

At the start of 2018 Lloyds revealed plans to close 49 branches between July and October this year, while RBS said that it would close 162 branches across England and Wales.

Halifax MP Holly Lynch said: “It is a real shame when you see these banks and quite often the cash machines that are with the banks start to be closed down by a big franchise.

Communities have been abandoned

Coun Collins said there is also a streetscape issue, urging banks to consider the effect shuttered up buildings can have on towns.

“These buildings have an effect on morale in the community.

“It does feel as though the communities themselves are abandoned. In fact our communities are the opposite of abandoned in Calderdale at the moment. There’s a huge amount of regeneration work going on.”

Tell us your story

Throughout September the Courier will be looking at the banking situation in Calderdale, speaking to customers, residents, politicians and the banks themselves.

Whatever your story, we’d like to hear from you. Share your views and experiences with Courier readers via emailing newsdesk@halifaxcourier.co.uk.

Pick up this week's Courier when we explore how communities in Calderdale are dealing with bank closures with more reaction from councillors and campaigners about the ongoing situtation.