A public meeting was held in Ystradgynlais last Friday to discuss the future of banking in the town after its last bank, Lloyds, decided it will be closing its branch in the town. 

The meeting was organised by Welsh Liberal Democrat MS for Mid & West Wales Jane Dodds and attended by more 50 people including Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate David Chadwick, County Councillor for Aber-craf and Ystradgynlais Huw Williams and town councillors. 

Representatives from Lloyds were invited to attend the meeting but did not turn up. 

Bank closures have become a familiar sight across Powys in the last decade, but concerns have been raised that it is no longer only affecting small villages and towns but spreading to the county’s largest settlements. Ystradgynlais is the second largest town in Powys with a population of more than 8,000 people.

The largest town, Newtown, in the north of the county with a population of 12,000, still currently has four in-person banks.

Community members at the meeting said that they want to fight the closure and that they were angry that Lloyds had not sent a representative to the meeting. 

Some residents said despite banking with Lloyds for a number of years in the town, they hadn’t received a formal notice the branch is set to close.

Lloyds Bank in Ystradgynlais
Jane Dodds MS and David Chadwick outside Lloyds Bank in Ystradgynlais (.)

Jane Dodds, Cllr Huw Williams and the Town Council agreed at the end of the meeting to work together to coordinate further action.

Welsh Lib Dem MS for Mid & West Wales Jane Dodds said: “There is a clear desire in the community to fight this closure and I will continue to use my voice to do so. 

“Access to cash and in-person banking is still essential, especially in rural areas like Powys with a large elderly population and poor internet access. 

“The way big banks are treating customers is a disgrace, they make billions of pounds a year in profits. This isn’t about financial viability, it's pure greed at the expense of loyal customers.”

Lib Dem General Election Candidate for Brecon & Radnorshire David Chadwick added: “This meeting showed the anger in our communities that big companies believe they can repay loyal customers with contempt. 

“I felt it was particularly poor that Lloyds didn’t even bother to show up to the meeting and engage with the community. 

“The Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for years to place stronger minimum service requirements on big banks, sadly this has been opposed by our Conservative Government who are more interested in protecting greed in the City of London than supporting thriving local communities in Mid Wales. 

“If I were the MP for Brecon and Radnorshire I would continue to use my voice in Westminster to stand up for our local high streets."

When approached by the Brecon & Radnor Express, Lloyds Bank did not explain exactly why a representative did not attend last week's public meeting in Ystradgynlais. Lloyds did say that they explained to Ms Dodds' office that their colleagues – both branch and local director teams – are making every effort to speak directly to customers to address any questions, and that continues to be their priority.

A Lloyds Bank spokesperson said: “Visits to our Ystradgynlais branch have fallen over recent years, as many customers now choose to bank digitally. When the branch closes in September, customers can use the local Post Office for everyday banking which is a short walk away, access cash at the free-to-use ATMs less than a mile away, alongside other ways to bank such as over the phone and online.“

The Ystradgynlais branch will close on September 19.