West Wales News Review

Economy, environment, sustainability

Cashless Society Damages Local Trade

Llansawel Market is this Saturday, July 21st, in the village hall from 10am to noon. The third Saturday of the month is always market time in this North Carmarthenshire village, more or less in the centre of a triangle with Lampeter, Llandovery and Llandeilo at the corners.

One modern development does not help it at all, though – the cashless society.

The nearest cashpoint is a good ten miles away, at the Co-op supermarket in Llandeilo. We rely increasingly on Co-op supermarkets to provide this rural area with cash, from the cashpoints in Llandeilo, Llandovery and Lampeter, and from the tills as ‘cashback’. These small but historic towns have suffered the withdrawal of banking services. HSBC, Lloyds and NatWest closed in Llandeilo and Llandovery. In both, Barclays is the only bank left in town, four days a week in Llandeilo and three days in Llandovery. The university town of Lampeter has lost NatWest, another blow for rural areas delivered by parent company Royal Bank of Scotland, which since 2008 has been bailed out by taxpayers to the tune of some £45 billion.

Getting hold of your cash is not at all easy, especially if you do not have your own transport. Closer to home than Llandeilo, the friendly Post Office in the National Trust village of Cwmdu, six miles away and open in the mornings Tuesday to Saturday, is an extremely valuable community asset, and so is the Post Office van at Llansawel village hall for an hour (2.15-3.15) on Monday afternoons. What we don’t have is a free-to-use cashpoint available round the clock.

Llansawel Village Hall, home of the village market — which runs on cash

Stallholders at the market take cash. Customers need cash. The market sells local products – such as cheeses, fruit and vegetables, beef, eggs, baked goods, confectionery, plants, crafts – so is an outlet for nearby enterprises, delivering the short supply chains which the EU has been encouraging. Small-scale producers who sell at markets and fairs benefit the rural economy and are helping to keep villages viable. Yet their need for customers with cash to spend is largely ignored by the big banks.

We are not talking about shoppers carrying wads of £20 notes, just modest amounts of cash for buying from small traders and also for donating to charity collectors. Homeless and recently homeless sellers of the Big Issue magazine, for example, depend on passers-by stumping up £2.50 for a copy. A debit card is no use for buying the Big Issue.

The scarcity of cashpoints in the countryside is itself a big issue, needing government and banks to get together to work out how to prevent rural regions from descending into financial deserts.



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4 thoughts on “Cashless Society Damages Local Trade

  1. Geraint on said:

    Noticed that Lis Saville Roberts MP, the Plaid leader in the House of Commons has launched a campaign with Which the consumer magazine to protect ATMs. She has called on the Payment Systems Regulator to carry out an urgent review to evaluate the impact closures have on communities. Over 2,600 cash machines have closed between December 2017 and May this year with many of those closures in rural areas.

    • The only way we have kept red phone boxes is to have them listed as of historical interest. Could be that we need a similar system for protecting rural cashpoints.

  2. Pingback: Best of the Blogs #36: Wacky Backy – Senedd Home

  3. Tim Martin on said:

    I fully agree with you – the Government has the power to intervene and force banks to provide sufficient coverage. Any Bank operating in this country requires a license from the Regulator – a simple intervention by the Regulator could force Banks to provide free of charge cashpoints in rural communities. Yes, somebody would have to be clever and devise which bank where etc etc but that is doable with the right will. The requirement is a desire of Government to intervene in our complex world to the benefit of everybody – simple things make a difference.

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