It is time to change tack. Today, but not before the shedding of the odd tear or two, we put to rest our long-standing Save Our Banks campaign. A big thank you to all those who have supported us along the way.
In its place, and on a more positive note, we are launching our Keep Our Communities Open For Business campaign.
Instead of continuing to lambast the big banks for shutting their branches, which in recent years they have done in droves – and will continue to do – we now want to highlight the good work that other financial institutions are doing to keep communities up and down the country vibrant.
Keen fell runner Chris Hpdgson says it is reassuring to have a contact at his building society branch in Ambleside
Support that often goes under the radar because of its localised nature, but which we passionately believe is deserving of our backing.
After all, I am sure most of us want our high streets to remain bustling and our towns and villages to be hives of activity – just as much as we need our broadband reception to work and our wi-fi signal to be strong, not weak.
Today’s three-page special report was spawned by a recent visit made to Ambleside where I was taken aback by the fact that this busy Cumbrian town had lost all its banks. It just did not make sense.
Although most of the people I met – guest house owners, retailers and restaurateurs – were angry at the big banks’ withdrawal en masse, they preferred to look at the positives.
They do not have time to moan – they need to get on, run their businesses and make a living. So they pointed me in the direction of local building societies which had stepped into the void left by the banks.
Speak to them, they implored. I did and was immediately impressed with their commitment to the communities – not just Ambleside – they serve.
I was also contacted by members of The Comoola Tree Project who are hopeful of setting up a nationwide franchise of community hubs which locals can use to do everything from banking to shopping. The Keep Our Communities Open For Business campaign was born.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to highlight the good work of those financial institutions determined to remain faithful to the high street – while simultaneously allowing customers to use the mobile apps and internet which the big banks are in thrall with.
We are also keen to hear from communities which might have lost their last bank but are determined to stay vibrant. Drop me a line with your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.