Harpenden Town Council are planning to apply for a banking hub next month, after the town lost its seventh bank or building society branch since 2018.

Prior to 2018, Harpenden was served by six bank branches and three building societies.


Since then, five bank and building society branches have closed and a further two have been announced as closing in 2023.

A spokesperson for Harpenden Town Council said: "High Streets across the UK have seen many changes over recent years and Harpenden is no different.

"One of the most significant changes is the reduction in banks and the services that they offer. Harpenden Town Council has started work to explore the opening of a Community Banking Hub to help address the impact that the loss of banks has in the Town.

"Before Christmas the Town Council carried out a resident and business survey to understand the impact of the loss of banking services and the need for a banking hub locally.

"We are currently analysing the findings of that survey which will be used to inform an application to have a Harpenden Banking Hub.

"We are expecting to submit that application in February."

The loss of branches has been described as "nothing short of a disgrace" by Harpenden Society chair Jeff Phillips.

He continued: "We are merely joining a list of communities across the country that the retail banks are turning their backs on purely to save costs.

"Banking hubs are a proven solution, but the pace of their introduction is lamentably slow, as it's a voluntary arrangement.

"The Finance Bill currently progressing through Parliament needs to be given some legislative teeth, requiring banks to cooperate in establishing hub facilities in communities that meet certain criteria (size of population, business and enterprise concentration etc), and which should include financial penalties for not so doing.

"The Society fully supports Harpenden Town Council's, and St Albans District Council's efforts to push this agenda, and would encourage our MP to join with other Members of Parliament, regardless of Party affiliation, to put pressure on Government so speed up this process."

The Herts Advertiser spoke to Harpenden resident Derek French, a former senior manager at Natwest who once led the Campaign for Community Banking Services.

On the potential introduction of a banking hub, Derek said: "The message has always been that digital banking has a huge amount to offer, but it doesn't satisfy every need for every age group.

"However, it is fully understood that for individual banks to maintain a branch, as we used to know them in the High Street - in these mid-sized towns of between 15 and 40 thousand population - is not viable any longer.

"So we have to have some sort of alternative that meets the needs of people, at a price that the banks can afford to provide it...

"...It (a banking hub) is a solution for this size of town."