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  1. ITV Report

Nearly half of all high street banks in Wales closed in the past 10 years

Credit: PA

An ITV Wales investigation has found that the main high street banks have closed nearly half their branches in Wales during the past 10 years.

The investigation for Welsh language current affairs programme, Y Byd ar Bedwar, found that the four main banks in Wales have closed 246 high street branches over the past decade.

In 2008, there were 518 branches between the big four in Wales - HSBC, Natwest, Barclays and Lloyds - but that number has now dropped to just 272. Many customers have voiced concerns, claiming the closures make it difficult for them to bank.

Several towns have been left without any banks at all. In Llanrwst on the edge of Snowdonia National Park, the town’s last bank will close at the end of this month, meaning residents will have to travel around 30 minutes to either Llandudno or Colwyn Bay to visit a bank.

Dwynwen Berry from Llanrwst is concerned about the impact bank closures are having on her community and on the local economy. Credit: Y Byd ar Bedwar

Dwynwen Berry, who runs a shop in Llanrwst, said bank closures are having a negative impact on the high street and the wider community.

She said: “The town is dying on its feet. When people go to the coast to do their banking, that’s where they do their shopping, so the streets of Llanrwst are much quieter.

"Cafes have closed, shops have closed than the fact banks are closing doesn’t help at all. It works against the wellbeing of towns like Llanrwst.

“Being without a bank is nonsense.”

Barclays has defended its decision to close the last bank in Llanrwst, saying customer usage had decreased by 12 per cent in the last two years and there were a number of other ways people could use Barclays’s services, including at the post office and through digital banking.

Business owner Deiniol ap Dafydd says bank closures have a negative effect on businesses Credit: Y Byd ar Bedwar

However another business owner, café and shop owner Deiniol ap Dafydd told Y Byd ar Bedwar the closures would still have a negative impact on Llanrwst.

He said: “We have to bank cheques, we have to bank cash and we need to get change, it’s not possible to do this in Llanrwst by now to be honest.”

Y Byd ar Bedwar’s research found that HSBC had closed the most banks in Wales over the past 10 years, with 102 closures. Natwest has closed 78, Barclays has closed 40 and Lloyds has closed 26 branches in the same period.

HSBC, Natwest and Barclays all said the way customers bank with them has changed with fewer customers visiting branches and more deciding to use digital platforms instead.

Bank branches play an important role in the life of local communities and decisions to close them are never taken lightly. Consumers are increasingly demanding new ways to bank, with new technology that allows you to check your balance or speak to your bank for advice 24/7.

But technology is not for everyone, which is why all the major banks have done deals to help customers and businesses do basic banking at 11,600 Post Office branches, creating more than 20,000 locations to do face to face banking (Across the UK).

To ensure communities can still access the services they need when branches are closed, banks conduct impact assessments of the branch closure covering the alternatives available to the community for access to cash, not just access to ATMs, but also mobile branches and the Post Office.

– UK Finance

Y Byd ar Bedwar will be broadcast on S4C at 9.30pm on Tuesday, with English language subtitles available.