HSBC has announced the closure of its branches in Skipton and Settle (Craven Herald, HSBC Bank to close its branches in Skipton and Settle, November 30, online).

When I moved to Settle less than 10 years ago the four big banks all had branches here, soon there will be none. The banks say that most people do their banking online. What about the others?

Online and telephone banking is not always easy or appropriate. People sometimes just need to see and speak to another human being. Family trauma is not a time when you want to get on a lengthy bus journey, or an expensive taxi ride, to get complicated or distressing family financial matters sorted. And, as so clearly pointed out by your paper (Craven Herald, “Bus network faces ‘grave situation’”, December 1, 2022), the reliability, or even existence, of a public bus service in Craven cannot be taken for granted.

ATMs are great for most people but ATMs are of no help to someone who can only afford to take out £5 as these days ATMs rarely stock them. If you are nervous about handling larger denominations in public, they are less a convenience and more a frightening prospect, and that fear may be justified. Who is watching as numbers are tapped in and cash is counted? If you have one of a range of disabilities they can be of no use at all.

Small businesses depend on having the confidence of their bank manager. Local economies will fail if businesses do not have at hand essential services such as a bank. Despite little evidence to support the ambition, this government claims to want northern regions to become wealthier and more sustainable, to ‘level-up’. If communities and towns like Settle and Skipton are deprived of essential financial services and an efficient public transport system they will become hollowed out shells with few jobs and fewer prospects.

In 2008 the big banks were bailed out by the government of the day for the sake of the national economy. With disregard for our local economy the same big banks have turned their backs on people who contributed through their taxes to that bailout. Banks like HSBC will protect their bottom line by equipping those customers who are able to do their banking online with the right gear. Those not able will have to find some other way. But what exactly?

I read that the government is considering legislation to ensure essential services are maintained when workers go on strike. How about legislation to ensure essential financial services are maintained in a town like ours?

Geraldine Reardon