A few weeks ago I used part of my weekly column here in the Flintshire Leader, to raise my concerns and frustrations of the decision taken by Barclays Bank to close their Flint Branch in a few months time. This week I will be meeting with Barclays to discuss their proposals and ensure that the voices of our communities are heard, again highlighting the impact their decision will have on elderly and vulnerable individuals, as well as those who rely on public transport.
Recent years have seen a decline of high street banks, with branches closing based on the decisions of those who are detached from our communities. Faceless stakeholders who have no interest in our town centres, except what profit they can make from them.
Many Leader readers know of my commitment to town centres and high streets – both personally and politically – and of the work I have done both locally and in government to help them not just survive, but to thrive. This includes promoting local businesses, attending local markets and having a street stall, and working across Wales to deliver investment in our town centres.
That is why it was great to meet with representatives of Banc Cambria last week and hear of their plans to develop the first community focused bank in Wales, where the bank is directed by its members – the customers. With Welsh Government support their plans are developing well and they are hopeful that they can begin opening branches early next year.
I took the opportunity to raise concerns about the impact that banks leaving our high streets and town centres had, had on our communities. In recent years we have seen a number of banks close their doors in Holywell and Flint, as well as across Wales, forcing customers to change banks or travel significant distances.
In the weeks and months ahead I will continue to do all I can to engage with organisations and the Welsh Government to promote the strengths of our town centres and high streets. I have previously said how we need to take the opportunity during our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic to build our town centres back better, but this can only be achieved by everyone working together to offer their support.
Since the vaccination programme began I have done my best to ensure that constituents receive factual and up to date information on the rollout here in our corner of the country. Over the weekend, Wales reached its milestone of offering vaccination appointments to the top four priority groups, with health boards now calling around to ensure that no one has been missed. If you or a loved one, are aged 70 and over, or have a condition which makes you clinically extremely vulnerable then please contact the vaccination booking centre on 03000 840004.
Our small army of volunteers and staff, from GPs and pharmacists to nurses and army personnel, will continue to work at pace to now offer both first and second doses of the vaccine. Once again my thanks goes out to all those involved in this effort.
If any Leader reader has any questions or issues that I can help with, then I remain on hand as ever, to offer my support. Please email me at Hannah.Blythyn@senedd.wales or call 01352 762102.