COLUMN: Richard Bacon MP - ‘Rural bank closure should be last resort, not first choice’
Barclays Bank has decided to close its Long Stratton branch, a very short-sighted decision given that Long Stratton will be such an important growth area for the years ahead.
Older residents will be hit hardest by this decision.
We all understand that telephone and internet banking means fewer people use rural branches these days.
So why don’t banks and building societies co-operate to cut costs while continuing to provide a physical banking service for those who really need it?
Not everyone wants to bank on the internet, or is even able to do so.
We need a more imaginative approach.
Too often, closure of a rural branch seems to be a bank’s first choice rather than a last resort.
I have asked Barclays to work with me, South Norfolk Council and the local community to find a way to keep the Long Stratton branch open.
I was pleased to attend the dedication of the restored porch at St John the Baptist Church in Bressingham, which was held recently.
The Bishop of Thetford, the Rt Rev’d Alan Winton, presided over the poignant ceremony, which was conducted in honour of the late Rodger and Millie Aves.
Well done to Diana Burroughes for helping to organise this service in grateful memory for the work done by Mr and Mrs Aves, who worked tirelessly to see the porch restored to its former glory after thefts from the roof left the porch damaged by poor weather.
Sadly, Mr and Mrs Aves did not live to see the fundraising reach its target but the community continued to raise funds in the Aves’ honour so that the repair work could go ahead.
The new porch is a marvellous tribute to the Aves’ memory.
ONSHORE WIND BLOWS
I have often used this column to update you on my actions in defending South Norfolk’s gentle rural landscape from industrial windfarms that are taller than Norwich Cathedral.
The Government has announced that it will keep its manifesto promise to phase out subsidies for onshore wind power.
There are now enough projects in the pipeline to meet the UK’s 2020 target to generate 11-13 GW of electricity through onshore wind.
New windfarms won’t be eligible for any subsidies unless the project already has planning consent, a grid connection offer and acceptance, and evidence of land rights for the proposed site.
Hard-pressed families shouldn’t have to pay more through their fuel bills to subsidise otherwise non-viable schemes. And now they won’t.
n Conservative Party member Richard Bacon is the Member of Parliament for South Norfolk.