An urgent appeal has gone to the high street banks to rethink closure plans after a new figures revealed a dramatic decline in branch numbers.
The plea comes from leading politicians after statistics revealed that nearly a third of banks in Peterborough have closed over the last seven years while North West Cambridgeshire has just two branches left open.
The figures have been released by the consumer watchdog Which?
And a separate study also reveals a big fall in the number of cash machines.
According to Which?, up to the end of last month, six banks have been shuttered in Peterborough since the start of 2015, leaving 14 remaining in the area.
The Royal Bank of Scotland closed its branch in Hereward Cross late last year while proposals by the TSB Bank to shut its branch in Lincoln Road, Millfield, two years ago was branded as a ‘betrayal’ of local people.
And over the same period five banks have been closed in North West Cambridgeshire since the start of 2015, leaving just two remaining in the area.
Separate figures from LINK, a cash machine network, show that between the start of 2018 and early March this year, the number of ATMs in Peterborough dropped from 136 to 113.
In North West Cambridgeshire, the number of ATMs dropped from 67 to 49 over the same period.
The increasing use of online banking and contactless payments have led to concerns some will be left behind, or unable to access key services.
Peterborough MP Paul Bristow said: “My message to the banks is don’t leave people behind.
“There are still so many people who rely on in-person banking and cash.
“And to think that these people don’t matter and are not crucial to our city, is wrong.
"We can’t let these people be left behind – we need the investment in physical infrastructure that these people rely on.”
A bill to protect access to cash was announced as part of the Queen’s Speech in May.
The Treasury says the new legislation will ensure “continued access to withdrawal and deposit facilities across the UK”.
Economic secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, said: “We know that access to cash is still vital for many people, especially those in vulnerable groups.
“We promised we would protect it, and through this bill we are delivering on that promise.”
Full details on what will be included are yet to be published.
Which? chief executive, Anabel Hoult, said: “While the pandemic has accelerated the move to digital payments for many consumers, many are not yet ready to make that switch and require protection from an avalanche of ATM and bank branch closures that have left the UK’s cash system at risk of collapse.”