Bank branch closure another blow to Batley town centre says councillor

A councillor fears the proposed closure of Batley’s Yorkshire Building Society is another blow to the town centre.

By John Greenwood - Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 2nd November 2020, 8:00 am

Coun Gwen Lowe (Lab, Batley West) said the loss of the office in Branch Road would mean another empty shop unit – and another reason not to have to go into town.

Over-the-counter transactions at Batley were “significantly” down in 2018-19 as more people bank online. Staff at the Batley branch are also thought to be at risk of losing their jobs.

Coun Lowe described the closure as a “sad sign of the times” and added: “While on-line banking is becoming increasingly popular, it’s not suitable for everyone.

Councillor Gwen Lowe outside the Yorkshire Building Society in Batley (Picture Mike Clark)

“I know several people who visit their bank for money matters as it feels safe and won’t entertain on-line banking. Plus they like to have a chat with the cashiers, as most of us value human contact.

“The number of bank and building society closures over the years in Batley is alarming, only Lloyds and Halifax are left now. Sadly this will be yet another empty unit in Batley.”

The Batley branch is one of six across Yorkshire earmarked for closure as the society streamlines its network. Batley is set to close in February.

The society says Batley has four other YBS branches within four miles, the nearest less than two miles away in Church Street, Dewsbury.

The proposals would also involve ending face-to-face mortgage advice in branches, which has been in decline for the last five years.

Just 5% of the society’s mortgage applications were made in branch at the start of this year. There were none in Batley in 2019.

Over the longer term, the society would look to expand into towns and cities with customer demand but no branch.

Gary Fowler, YBS director of retail distribution, said: “In 2018 to 2019, Batley saw a significant fall of transactions at its branch. We are also seeing lower footfall across branches and declining face-to-face mortgage applications.

“There are four branches within four miles of this branch and will be doing our best to support our customers’ transition to their nearest location, whilst working with our people who are at risk of losing their roles.”