As The Courier's six-week examination of the banking crisis in Calderdale comes to an end, the results of our reader survey are in.
IN our banking survey, we asked how local branch closures have affected you and what changes you’d like to see.
We asked Courier readers to share their banking habits, rate the current level of provision and have their say on what they think could be done to improve the situation.
We asked how often you used your local branch.
Fifty-five per cent of people said they visited once a week, and more than 20 per cent use their branch fortnightly, demonstrating a need for in-person facilities for everyday banking in a branch.
The most popular reason for visiting a branch was to pay in or withdraw money. Seventeen per cent visit their branch to speak to an advisor, a personal service the online world struggles to replicate.
More than one in ten people use their branch for club, society or business matters.
Thirty-eight per cent of participants in our survey said they combine their visit to the bank with town centre shopping.
This raises fears about the impact of future bank branch closures on high street sales and the local economy.
Running errands and meeting family or friends were the next most popular activities combined with a bank visit. One in five people will leave the house just to visit the bank.
The distance of banks is still important to customers, with more than half of participants saying the furthest they would travel is one mile. The survey revealed customers are unlikely to join a bank if it is further than five miles away from their home.
Nearly two-fifths of people use public transport to get to their bank, highlighting the importance of siting banks in locations with good transport links.
Everyone who was polled said they have not switched to online banking following the closure of their local branch. Given the choice, 95 per cent said they prefer to bank in person rather than online.
A majority of those polled said if their currently closed branch re-opened, they would return to bank there in person, while just two per cent would keep banking online.
When asked for their opinion on the current provision of services in the borough, most described the situation as “satisfactory”, followed by “very poor” and “poor”.
Only 10 per cent described the provision of services as “excellent”.
The case for action...
Our Banking on Calderdale campaign has explored the reasons behind branch closures in the borough as well as how towns are dealing with the changes.
Councillors, banking experts, business owners and residents have had their say on the increase in branch closures. And now Courier readers have outlined what they think should be done to improve the situation.
Several key options emerged from our banking survey.
Some readers said keeping existing banks open even if just for one or two days a week could be a solution.
Others suggested re-opening village branches that have closed, even if it was only on selected days.
Perhaps the most revolutionary idea is creating one central banking hub used by different banks on different days to cater for all customers. This shared-service model is similar to the one outlined by Deputy Leader of Calderdale Council, Coun Barry Collins during the campaign.
He said: “It would be really interesting to try and explore it to see if it could operate.”
A mobile bank bus for rural areas proved to be a popular idea with readers, while others suggested mobile banking locations.
A lot of people said the increase in bank closures is creating pressure to go online. They believe banks should ease this by employing more counter staff to deal with increasing numbers at the remaining open branches in the borough, suggesting the preference for face-to-face service is not lost yet.
One reader said online banking makes it difficult for paying in coins and cheques. A lack of personal customer service appeared to be a continued source of concern for Calderdale residents.
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What do you make of the survey results?
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