Home Money JEFF PRESTRIDGE: Yorkshire businessman who has to bank cheques… in London

JEFF PRESTRIDGE: Yorkshire businessman who has to bank cheques… in London

by Elijah
0 comment
Convenience: Banks can take away their branches, but they can't afford a walk on Ilkley Moor

Barclays Bank is undoubtedly making life difficult for many customers as it continues to cut its branches.

Already this year, it has announced plans to close 62 branches, with the first of these closing next month. This is in addition to the 1,140 that have closed since the beginning of 2015, according to consumer group Which? No other bank, says Which One?, has been so ruthless in erasing its presence from our towns.

Businessman Mike Ridgway is among the customers affected by Barclays’ determination to reduce its branch network to a minimum. Mike, a packaging industry consultant, lives in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, and laments the fact that Barclays now makes his banking life a chore.

Although Mike, a Barclays customer for 55 years, embraced online banking for a while, he was scammed 18 months ago. While he eventually got his money back from the bank, he avoided mobile and online banking in favor of branches and phone banking.

Barclays closed its Ilkley branch two years ago, although in its defense it was not the only bank to leave the town. HSBC closed its branch in June last year, just after NatWest closed the business, while Halifax closed just two months ago. Only Santander now has a presence in the city.

Convenience: Banks can take away their branches, but they can't afford a walk on Ilkley Moor

Convenience: Banks can take away their branches, but they can’t afford a walk on Ilkley Moor

“It’s crazy,” Mike says. ‘Ilkley is a thriving town with high property values ​​and provides a perfect base for people working in Bradford, Leeds, Manchester and beyond. However, the banks have almost given up on us.’

What irritates Mike most is that Barclays hasn’t stopped at Ilkley. Branches have been razed in nearby Guiseley (April 2023) and Settle (February 2022). To compound their banking misery, the Skipton branch closes for good this week, while the Keighley branch suffers a major upheaval in August. “Barclays customers who like face-to-face banking are literally being unbanked,” he says.

Mike says that to visit a ‘local’ Barclays branch you now have to take a train to Bradford or Leeds, a 35 minute journey, provided the trains are on time (50:50). Or, in extremis, you’ll deposit the occasional check you receive at a Barclays branch when you’re in London on business. ‘I was in London five days ago,’ he says, ‘and I went to his branch in Berkeley Street, Mayfair, to deposit a cheque. How crazy is that.’

Banking expert Derek French believes Barclays – more than any other bank – is on a mission to close many of its branches outside big cities. This is because it does not want to be in the position of being the last bank in town when new rules arrive from the City regulator (the Financial Conduct Authority), potentially restricting banks’ right to close the last branch. “It’s interesting that among the latest closures announced by Barclays,” says Derek, “it has targeted branches in big cities, where it is the first or second bank to pull out.”

They include towns such as Andover in Hampshire; Barks, Essex; Bracknell and Maidenhead, Royal Berkshire; Gravesend, Kent; Hartlepool, County Durham; and Lancaster in Lancashire, all with populations of more than 50,000. I fear that the closure of bank branches will be a recurring theme this year.

The last word goes to Mike. “Ilkley is becoming a banking desert,” he says. ‘The only thing that consoles me is the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales on my doorstep. Banks can’t destroy that, right?

In the interest of balance, I would like to congratulate both Nationwide Building Society and HSBC on some welcome branch-friendly initiatives. Nationwide, which prefers to maintain rather than close branches, has agreed to donate a maximum of £10,000 to local causes in Windsor, Royal Berkshire, a town where it is (scandalously) the only surviving bank or building society.

For every new current and savings account opened by residents between now and March 26, £200 will go into a community fund, with local people deciding how the money is used. Well done, nationally.

Meanwhile, HSBC has just opened a new “flagship” branch in Huddersfield, based in the city’s Kingsgate shopping centre. It follows hot on the heels of the opening of a similar state-of-the-art branch in Sheffield.

Unlike Barclays, HSBC has said it will not announce any new branch closures for the rest of this year. It’s not all doom and gloom on the bank branch front.

Will Jeremy Hunt make us happier?

Smile: Finland has the highest happiness index: 7.8 out of 10

Smile: Finland has the highest happiness index: 7.8 out of 10

Smile: Finland has the highest happiness index: 7.8 out of 10

I receive a large number of emails from companies every day. I get rid of most and only keep the ones I need for my job and my own personal finance education (I’m constantly in learning mode).

Every once in a while, emails are so edgy they make me smile, like the one I received last week from online casino comparison website CasinoTop3.

He has conducted research that he claims indicates a clear link between money and happiness, and life expectancy and happiness. In other words, the more money you have and the longer you expect to live, the happier you will be. According to CasinoTop3, the country that currently has the highest happiness score (7.8 out of 10) is Finland. Its residents also rank in the top third of the 60 countries analyzed in terms of average salary and life expectancy.

Finland is followed by Denmark, Holland and Sweden. As for the United Kingdom, it is ranked 17th, followed by India at the bottom of the list.

If I’m reading the runes correctly, Wednesday’s Budget could well be devoid of the tax cuts most people are desperate for. If so, my guess is that the UK’s happiness score could well slip further down the global rankings as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt continues to take a bigger share of our income and savings through a myriad of stealth taxes. And again, if Labor wins the next election and hits the middle classes with even more taxes.

The United Nations has considered the 20th of this month as the International Day of Happiness. Bah humbug.

A big thank you

Finally, a big thank you to all those readers who have contacted me in recent days to express their condolences on the loss of my mother (Helen of Troy) at the ripe old age of 88.

The Prestridge family celebrated his life three days ago in Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham. Most of the time we laughed, interrupted by the intermittent shedding of tears.

I’m sure I won’t be laughing in the coming weeks as I work to get legalization granted. I’m already losing sleep over the battles that inevitably await us. Probate is a nightmare and I can’t imagine it being any different for Jeff Prestridge.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them, we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

You may also like