Residents are crying out for a banking hub to set up shop in Dartmouth, which used to boast three resident banks but now has none.
Dartmouth lost its last bank – Nat West - in June 2018 following the closure of Lloyds Bank the previous year and before that, HSBC. With the banks went the town centre’s 24-hour cash machines.
Now there are just two ATMs, one in the Co-op in Fairfax Place and the other in the Spar on Victoria Road. The only place to pay cash in, is the Post Office based at the rear of the Spar.
Both Lloyds and the Nat West provide mobile banking services but only for a limited period. Lloyds mobile bank visits the town for two hours each fortnight, while Nat West drops by for 45 minutes a week.
Ben Cooper, Dartmouth and East Dart’s Labour Candidate for the forthcoming district council elections is championing a banking hub in Dartmouth, like the one in Brixham, which was one of the first to open in the UK.
Since it was launched in December last year, community bankers visit the hub on rotation, allowing customers to talk to representatives of their own bank about more complicated issues.
Ben said: “With no proper banking provision in Dartmouth, the nearest bank miles away and an elderly population, the need for a banking hub in Dartmouth is obvious.
“Designed for towns which are now too small to sustain multiple bank branches, bank hubs are essentially a standard bank branch operated by the Post Office and intended for communities whose access to cash has been restricted as a result of bank closures.
“Access to cash still matters for the local economy and with a choice of empty shops along Duke Street to choose from, I really think now is a great time to campaign for one for the town.”
Ben added: “Like many of my generation, I’m happy to do all of my banking online, but many elderly people are not.
“They pay by cash, like access to cash and draw their pensions out. They also like speaking to someone about their banking and would like to have access to a bank manager again.
“Lizzie Hindle of Morellos cafe believes a banking hub would provide a “great service” to Dartmouth as the town’s ATM’s regularly run out of cash and the post office is often “exceptionally busy.”
She explained: “As a business owner, whenever I want to bank my cash takings I have to wait in normally a long queue of people sending letters and parcels, or travel at least 30 minutes one way to my nearest bank, which I don’t always have the time to do.
“At the moment, many businesses do not accept cash as payment, but with many residents and visitors in Dartmouth who are either elderly or cash dependent and card machines not entirely reliable, there is still a big need for businesses to accept cash.”