THERE have been calls this week for a banking hub in Stroud after a flurry of branch closures.

In the past year, four banks in the town centre have either closed or announced plans to do so.

Barclays and Halifax both shut their branches last year while HSBC and NatWest are closing in the next few months.

That leave just Nationwide, Lloyds, Santander and Coventry Building Society operating in the town.

Increased use of online services is the main reason behind the closures.

This week, Stroud Town Council issued a call for a shared banking hub to be set up in the town centre.

Mayor Stella Parkes said: “These closures have caused great disruption for individuals and businesses.

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"People need choice on how they access their bank service.

“Online banking is not accessible to everyone nor is it always appropriate.

"We all have had times when face-to-face contact with our bank has helped us resolve an issue.

"Taking away that option is not in anyone’s best interest.

“We would welcome the establishment of a BankHub.

"We believe a vibrant town centre needs to provide the services that the community needs.”

Cllr Parkes thanked those banks which remain in the town.

“By staying open and offering face-to-face services, these banks are proving they want to be an active part of our community," she said.

“That commitment to providing vital services should be recognised and we encourage people to consider moving to these banks if their bank no longer supports face-to-face or cash services.

"The town council encourages banks to continue to offer face-to-face contact and to offer cash services to both individual and business clients."

MP Siobhan Baillie recently met with officials from Barclays to discuss access to services following its closure.

Since the branch shut in January last year, the bank has set up a hub once a week in the Sub Rooms and the service has recently been renewed for another 12 months.

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Customers can speak to staff between 9am and 4.30pm on Tuesdays.

Ms Baillie is also in favour of a shared hub.

"I will meet with all banks and try to find realistic ways to help the situation," she said.

"I'm hugely supportive of options for face-to-face services and I would support an application for a banking hub.

"I understand that we would not be top of the list while we have any high street banks left open in the town but an early application could get the ball rolling.

"In the meantime, the Sub Rooms would welcome more banks there so that's something to explore.

"It is important all residents are able to bank in our town as how services are delivered evolve.

"I continue to be worried about the loss of banks, particularly for the elderly, so I will support residents through this process in any way I can."

Chair of Stroud Chamber of Trade Tony Davey also backed the idea.

"We are saddened that so many of the banks have decided to leave our communities," he said.

"While temporary measures will provide a stop-gap, they are not a robust solution for the future.

"While some services are available from our valuable Post Office network, we know that this service has limitations.

"Access to cash and services is essential for many in our society and we have not lost sight of that.

"Online options are adequate for many but not for all."