Earlestown town hall c Steve Daniels via CC BY-SA 2.0

The town hall is undergoing a £980,000 restoration. Credit: Steve Daniels via CC BY-SA 2.0

Earlestown puts hat in ring for local banking hub

Labour councillors in Newton West ward have applied for a shared banking hub to be established in the Merseyside town, potentially in the town hall on Market Street.

Like many town centres across England, bank branches in Earlestown have shut down, limiting access to banks and cash machines for residents and businesses and negatively impacting the local economy.

Last December, a consortium of UK lenders, charities and businesses called the Cash Action Group set up a company tasked with assessing the banking needs of any community facing the closure of a “core cash service” such as a bank branch or ATM, and determining whether it should have a ‘banking hub’ established in the local Post Office or similar to meet their needs.

The aim of these hubs is to enable customers of any bank to access their accounts, withdraw money and deposit cash and cheques at any time. More challenging customer enquiries would be dealt with by a representative from each of the major retail banks that visit once a week.

In some locations, ATMs could be set up in libraries and other community centres for customers to use.

To date, the new company known as LINK has identified 13 proposed locations for banking hubs across the UK – including, in the North West, Carluke in Lancashire and Maryport in Cumbria – and urged more communities to come forward with applications.

Newton West Labour councillors submitted their application on Tuesday this week in response.

Councillor Seve Gomez-Aspron, leader of St Helens Borough Council, posted on his public Facebook page, and on that of Newton West Labour Councillors: “Newton West Labour Councillors and I have submitted an application for this organisation to come to Earlestown and run an assessment on how a new potential banking hub could work.

“It was a farce that the banking companies closed all their branches when businesses and people still need access. It might work, it might not. A banking hub would be good in the newly opened Town Hall, which I’ve told them we can explore.

“We will keep you posted!”

Restoration works on the grade two-listed Earlestown Town Hall started in April. Dating back to 1892, the building – a “rich part of Newton-le-Willows’ heritage, which once staged The Beatles”, according to a St Helens’ council press statement – was closed in 2008 by the former council administration to cut costs.

Contractor EFT Systems is now leading a project to make £980,000 of external repairs to the roof, chimneys, pointing, windows and other architectural features. The restoration was scheduled to complete this autumn.

Earlestown, meanwhile, is tipped for a wider regeneration –  a 20-year masterplan for the centre of the town by developer English Cities Fund (ECF) was signed off by the council in February.

St Helens Council approved ECF’s 20-year regeneration masterplan for Earlestown in February. Credit: via Lexington

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