STALYBRIDGE will be left with very few standalone cash machines as its final bank branch will have two removed once it closes if planning permission is granted.
The Natwest, on Melbourne Street, will shut on July 8 next year after it revealed just 18 personal customers used the branch on a regular basis, while 160 business customers went through the doors in 2022.
Now the chain has already applied to Tameside Council to have the cashpoints removed from the structure, ending hopes people would still be able to withdraw funds from them.
That would leave two at Tesco on ones at petrol stations on Stamford Street and Caroline Street as pretty much the only places in the town where cash can be obtained.
Documents supporting Natwest’s application state: “The original building fabric will not be altered, removed, or concealed.
“All existing original features will not be affected by the proposed works. The existing ATMs are located in an ashlar stonework wall. The proposal is to remove both and infill to match existing stonework adjacent.
“The proposal is to remove the night safe plate and infill with stonework to match existing adjacent.
“All works are intended to involve the minimum intervention and preserve the original look and feel of the existing building within the context of its position in the Stalybridge Town Centre Conservation area.”
Natwest insist discussions with neighbours have not taken place as the work would not adversely affect them.
But removing the cash machines is a further blow to Stalybridge and only serves to exacerbate people’s fears about the onset of a cashless society.
MP Jonathan Reynolds led the criticism of the call to close the branch, insisting the Government should have done more and that a ‘banking hub’ is needed.
He said: “One alternative that has been proposed are ‘banking hubs’, whereby banks would jointly cover the cost of providing shared facilities.
“I think we clearly need something like this in Stalybridge. I have been in touch with LINK following this news. It is their job to make the determination on whether one is necessary. The initial response is encouraging.
“I recognise personal banking habits have changed and lots of people don’t use branches any more, but I still feel the Government have allowed a situation to occur where there will soon be no bank branches outside of major city centres and little thought has been given to what that means.”
Tameside Council’s Speakers Panel (Planning) committee will decide whether to grant or refuse planning permission.