Across the country, High Streets have seen many changes over recent years, and ours in Flitwick is no different. One of the big changes is the reduction in banks and the services they offer.
Councillors know that the closure of the Post Office in December and the forthcoming closure of the Flitwick Branch of Barclays is a major concern for many people across our community.
Flitwick Town Councillors have been working to understand the needs of the community, including residents and local businesses, and the possibilities for filling the gaps left by the closures.
A Banking Hub is a dedicated and appropriate banking space where the public and businesses have daily access to face-to-face counter service, with the same transactional banking facilities that the high street banks offer. This includes the opportunity for scheduled private consultations with individual bank representatives.
Access to banking services is monitored and assessed by LINK on behalf of the banking industry, with LINK being able to order the delivery of services to address gaps in provision, including providing services like free-to-use ATMs and Banking Hubs.
Flitwick Town Council and Ampthill Town Council are working together to lobby LINK to open a Banking Hub in our area. Delivering a Banking Hub is not within either council’s control, but Councillors recognise the important role they have to play in ensuring the needs of local communities are communicated. Councillors across both Councils agree that securing a Banking Hub in either Flitwick or Ampthill town centres would be a significant win for our area.
This week has been a busy one in getting the process started. On Monday 20th February, Cllr Andy Snape, Flitwick Town Mayor, hosted a meeting to brief representatives from the Parish Councils representing the communities surrounding Flitwick and Ampthill about Banking Hubs and to ask for support lobbying LINK.
Councillors from Flitwick Town Council, Ampthill Town Council, Maulden Parish Council, Clophill Parish Council, Flitton & Greenfield Parish Council, Pulloxhill Parish Council, Steppingley Parish Council, Tingrith Parish Meeting, Millbrook Parish Meeting, and CBC Ward Councillors Mike Blair (Ampthill Ward) and Neil Bunyan (Flitwick Ward) all agreed support and will be writing to LINK over the next few days.
On Tuesday 21st February, Cllr Ian Titman (Ampthill), Cllr Susan Clinch (Ampthill) and Cllr Ian Blazeby (Flitwick) met in person with representatives from LINK as part of its process to assess the needs of the community. Councillors discussed the information LINK collected through desk surveys, asked questions about the process and clearly explained the gaps that not having access to banking will create.
It is now down to LINK to make a final decision on need and viability, and we recognise that it’s likely to go quiet for the next few weeks. The Council will keep everyone updated as the process progresses
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