Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert has written to banking leaders and regulators after Henfield residents complained of a ‘restricted access’ to cash machines.
Mr Herbert wrote the letter after Henfield’s business owners told him of the problems they were facing because shoppers in the village have been unable to obtain cash.
The MP has taken the issue up on their behalf with John Howells, chief executive of LINK, Charles Randell, chairman of the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) and Jes Staley, group chief executive officer of Barclays Bank.
In his letter to Mr Howells, sent on Thursday, June 14, Mr Herbert said: “Rural constituencies like mine have suffered from local bank branch closures and my constituents now also find themselves with even more restricted access to cash machines.
“Natwest Bank removed its ATM on June 5 and Barclays had its ATM stolen in a heist on April 15. It is not yet clear when it will be replaced.
“ATMs are available in the local supermarket, Post Office and convenience store but these are either fee-charging, or unreliable, or only available during opening hours, or their capacity is small in terms of the volume of cash they can hold.
“This lack of ATM provision is having a detrimental impact on the financial, commercial and social lives of Henfield residents, and a number of my constituents have written to me about this.
“In particular, the impact is felt by the elderly, who are often not as digitally-native as the younger generations, and by those on low or fixed incomes, who manage their weekly budgets by using cash rather than with the new contactless or chip-and-pin technology.
“I understand that you have reassured Treasury ministers that you will do ‘whatever it takes’ to maintain an extensive network of free-to-use cash machines, to ensuring that the present geographical spread of ATMs is maintained, and to protecting ATMs in the rural areas and market towns that are harder to serve.
“I would therefore be very grateful if your Financial Inclusion Programme could be used to benefit my constituents in Henfield, and if you could reinstall a free, 24-hour and reliable ATM on its High Street as soon as possible.”
In Mr Herbert’s letter to Mr Randell, chairman of the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), he added: “As the regulator, you have made promises to use your statutory powers to ‘robustly hold LINK to account’ and to ensure that the interests of the users of payment systems are promoted. I would therefore be very grateful if you could examine the case of Henfield and take the appropriate action to ensure that those pledges are fulfilled on behalf of my constituents.
Mr Herbert added: “While the post office can replace high street banking services, we still need cashpoints in our villages. Our high streets are under enough pressure as it is. We need to attract customers to local shops and businesses, and it’s important not to add to these problems.”