Keynsham to lose its last bank

KEYNSHAM is set to lose its last bank branch early next year.

The Halifax in the High Street is due to shut permanently on January 14, 2025, although the closure might be delayed until March.

Meanwhile, LINK, the UK’s cash access and ATM network, has announced that town is to get a new banking hub  as part of a wider commitment to protect access to cash.

Banking hubs are a shared banking space, similar to a traditional bank branch but available to everyone.

The hub will consist of a counter service operated by Post Office employees, where customers of any bank can withdraw and deposit cash, make bill payments and carry out regular banking transactions.

Staff from different banks will be available on different days.

To date, LINK has recommended 117 banking hubs, and there are currently 37 banking hubs up and running in the UK.

The Keynsham banking hub will now be delivered by Cash Access UK, which will engage with the local community and start to look for potential sites. The hub will likely open in 12 months’ time.

Nick Quin, LINK’s head of financial inclusion, said: “We are pleased to recommend this new banking hub for the local community in Keynsham.

“Many people are reliant on cash, and it is essential that we preserve access to cash and the opportunity for basic banking for communities across the UK.

“We are certain that this new hub will secure these services for the residents of Keynsham.”

Halifax says of the Keynsham branch closure: “Most customers are now using our mobile app, internet banking or calling us instead, which means they are using branches, including the Keynsham branch, much less.”

Its statistic shows that that the number of in-person transactions at the branch has fallen by 56% in the past five years, with cash machine transactions down by 25%.

A total of 393 customers used counter services at the Keynsham  branch or the Immediate Deposit Machine (IDM) four times in the six months ending November 2023.

People using the branch tend to be older, comprising 35% of those aged 55 to 74 and 20% of those over 75. Just 16% are aged 18 to 34.

Halifax said: “Our community banker will be at the banking hub one day a week, so you can come in and do your banking in person.

“We’ll update our website with the hub address, opening times and when our community banker will be there, when this information becomes available.

“To give the banking hub time to get up and running, we may delay the closure of the branch until March 2025.”

PEOPLE who have tripped in Keynsham’s “optical illusion” cycle lane are being urged to get in touch with experts at the University of Bristol who are investigating the phenomenon.

Ever since it was installed on the High Street in early 2022, people have been tripping over in the cycle lane, which has a kerb on one side and a white painted line on the other, before another kerb drops down to the road.

The cycle path is compliant with the codes around how they should be designed, but whether it gives people enough visual cues to understand what is under their feet is another matter.

In the summer, professors Ute Leonards (University of Bristol), Nick Scott-Samuel (also Bristol), and Simon Rushton (Cardiff), who are experts in the human visual system, headed to Keynsham after reading the news of the “optical illusion” causing people to trip.

Now they are asking people who have fallen or stumbled to get in touch with them so they can get enough data to understand the problem — and how to fix it.

Neuropsychology professor Dr Leonards said: “This is an interest from the academic side. We need to find the evidence.”

She has been working with local councillor Hal McFie (Keynsham East, Liberal Democrats) to get in touch with people who have been caught out by the cycle lane. Now she is asking anyone who has fallen or even just stumbled in the cycle lane to email with a contact number and the specific details of where they fell.

People are asked to be as specific as possible about where they tripped, whether on the pavement, cycle lane, or buffer between it and the road; and include which shop they were by when they tripped.

Dr Leonards hopes that their research could lead to a change in the guidance to prevent similar issues happening again.

Bath and North East Somerset Council has decided to change the solid painted line which is the source of some of the confusion to a broken line in the hopes this will solve the crisis.

John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporting Service