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Politics Rhondda Cynon Taf South Wales

Lack of access to cash in Treorchy causes concern

High Street In Treorchy (Pic: Google Maps)

THE LACK of access to cash in one Rhondda town has caused concern among businesses with no bank left and the only cash machines there sometimes not having any.

After Barclays closed and with only a few cash machines left in the town which sometimes don’t have any cash, local people and businesses have spoken about how it affects them.

Some have said it’s lost them customers and one business has been considering not trading anymore as a result.

There is a mobile bank twice a week and a banking hub is set to come to the town but some businesses are worried.

Christine Gillard of the coffee shop Hot Gossip said: “It is not easy to get cash.”

She said there’s two cash points in town and one at the Co-op but since the bank closed and that cash point was taken away there are occasions when the cash machines are out of money by the afternoon.

She said: “We’ve lost custom. We’ve definitely lost customers” as many people don’t come back if the cash point is not working.

She said: “It is having a knock on effect on a lot of businesses.”

Christine said that a lot of older people need a bank and don’t have access to online banking.

Nicola Lund of Top Cards said: “It’s definitely hard to get cash. We’re a cash only business.

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She said they won’t have a card machine because of the extra charges and those have to be passed on to the customer.

Speaking about the difficulty getting cash, she said: “We are losing customers because of it.”

Nicola Lund said she and a neighbouring business have seen “a real downturn in trade” and that she’s contacted the local MP and MS.

She said her father is on the verge of going out of business altogether and the business had had some issues since lockdown and never recovered.

Shelley James at Ty Gwallt hair salon said she has a card machine but is trying to phase it out.

She said she doesn’t feel the full value as she’s paying for the card machine and said that you can only put a certain amount of cash in at the post office.

At the Cosy Cafe, Keri Rees said it’s not fair on older people as there not that many cashpoints and they have been empty at times.

Ann Barrett said: “There are no banks now. People like to see their money. It’s not acceptable I don’t think.”

Craig Weaver of D&M Davies Jewellers said more people are using card these days and that he’s seen a decrease in cash payments.

He said they’d paid their staff in cash until recently but now its by bank transfer.

He said that on Saturday, by the afternoon, all the cash points had run out.

The problem was recently highlighted on social media

Kieran Bailey, who grew up in Treorchy, highlighted the issue on social media and said he has had getting cash there and said people should have a choice over how they pay.

He said since Barclays Bank closed in the town, the other cash machines that are left can’t cope with the demands for cash in the area and said they run out in the morning sometimes.

Kieran said that a couple of the shops in the town are cash only and that it’s such a shame that the issue exists especially after the town was named the UK’s high street of the year in 2020.

He said that Treorchy “is a bit of an oasis” in the area and it runs on a “micro economy” which people support and that’s one of the ways businesses keep prices down.

Kieran said he is pro choice when it comes to how people pay and said “it’s about having the opportunity to pay either way.”

He described how recently there were several places which only took card that he couldn’t use when waiting for his replacement bank card to arrive so cash is a “back up plan we can’t really afford to lose.”

Kieran said there are no banks in the upper Rhondda now and that the cashpoint at the Co-op in Treorchy is a bit out of the way so once people walk down to it they might not want to walk back up into town.
He said those on the high street are sometimes out of cash and that there is one at the post office but that’s not always open.

He said: “I’m worried about it affecting businesses.”

Kieran said: “I’m not anti-card. Everybody should be able to pay however they choose.”

He said he felt quite isolated without his card adding “it’s about being inclusive and not discriminating against anyone who hasn’t got certain means.”

The views of local councillors

Local councillors Bob Harris and Sera Evans also spoke about the issue.

Cllr Harris said he’s aware of the issue and is having meetings about it having regularly received complaints about the situation.

He said they’re hoping to get some sort of resolution and that there might be a banking hub set up in the town.

But he said: “We need more cash points. So many businesses are cash only.”

He said it’s an issue they’re definitely working on and that the closure of the Barclays bank in the town all happened so quickly adding “time is of the essence.”

Cllr Harris said: “I will be making every effort I can to get as many cash points as we can to maintain that viability.”

Cllr Evans said: “It is a really shocking situation that we are in. The cash flow situation is dire.”

She mentioned the cash points that are left in the town including at the post office during opening time but said this can be quite restrictive.

Cllr Evans mentioned the Barclays mobile bank that had been set up in the town but added that the issue with cash is a “knock on effect” of banks leaving.

She said some some businesses only trade with cash because banks charge for the facility for electronic payment which is not sustainable for some.

Cllr Evans said the government needs to be doing more to help businesses and lobby banks around lower charges for electronic payment facilities.

She said the issue about the sustainability of high streets and keeping banks in the town is a long standing one but that Treorchy is one of the most viable town centres in RCT and residents are rightly proud.

She said said it’s “really challenging” when people can’t always pay the way they wish particularly for the older generation who may not have on line banking and she said “accessibility is an issue.”

She suggested residents make representations to their local Member of the Senedd and the local MP.

Plans for a new banking hub

Barclays said that since their branch closed in April they’ve had a mobile van in Treorchy two days a week.

They said that Cash Access UK is looking to set up a banking hub but an appropriate permanent site has yet to be found so Barclays has allowed them to use their old branch in the town as a temporary hub and this could open next week.

A banking hub provides access to counter services from different high street banks with each bank being there on a different day.

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