Calls for community bank in outlying areas of Southend

A COMMUNITY bank must be built because numerous bank closures have left some Southend residents facing a ten-mile round trip to make transactions over the counter, campaigners say.

In recent years, Shoebury, Thorpe Bay and Southchurch have lost branches of all the major banks including Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC and NatWest.

The nearest banks are now in Southend, five miles away for residents in Shoebury.

Kevin Ryan, a candidate for Shoebury ward in the forthcoming May elections has made a bid to bring a community bank to the east of the city a priority.

He said: “We have a lot of elderly and infirm people and families in Shoebury. It would be great to be able to go in somewhere that had a bank even three or four days a week. That would be fantastic. It would be good to find a building but that would be down to good will and cost.

“We have no banks left, only machines. There is nowhere between Shoebury and Southend. I know a lot of elderly people are not as conversant with banking online.

“People like to see other humans occasionally. You can do telephone banking but it takes a very long time get through.”

The call follows the successful launch last year of a community bank in Rochford.

The Rochford banking hub, on West Street, has been a huge success since its launch in April last year with thousands of transaction made by residents.

The scheme, at the Post Office building, allows Santander, Natwest, Barclays, Lloyds and HSBC to use the building on a rotational basis.

Peter Lovett, vice chairman of Shoebury Residents’ Association, added: “We would welcome any bank. We had one in Thorpe Bay but that’s gone now. Anything that makes things easier for residents and the local community is welcome.”

Rochford is one of three towns in the UK chosen to pilot a community bank scheme to help those with little or no online access to their accounts following a raft of bank branch closures.

The Access to Cash scheme being trialled by the Government in partnership with the Post Office.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter