Banks say their branches on your high street are increasingly outdated as more customers move online.

I don't agree. The banks need to remember those in the older generation who aren’t online. And local businesses, too.

Their actions risk leaving communities without adequate access to cash and banking services. 

Research recently published by Age UK reveals continued support for in-person banking. Fear of being defrauded and a lack of IT skills are common reasons as to why face-to-face is preferred.

Readers may know that Sidmouth's last bank in town – Lloyds – will be closing from the 5th of September. It is a bitterly disappointing decision when more than a third of customers using the branch are over 75.

I've been holding meetings to see how to set up banking hubs in East Devon and I’m pleased to confirm hubs are coming to Sidmouth and Axminster.

Banking hubs offer a dedicated counter for cash services, allowing customers to withdraw and deposit cash easily. They also have a dedicated space where employees from major banks can discuss customer concerns in-person.

I launched a local campaign to send a clear message to the banks that they should staff Sidmouth's banking hub. 81% of residents who responded have visited a bank branch in the past six months. 96% said they want staff from their own bank in the hub. The demand is clearly there.

Location scouting has already begun for a site in Sidmouth. The banking hub will be open 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. The advice room will be staffed by high street banks to help with more complicated transactions such as mortgages, loans, and pensions.

Lloyds say they will keep their Sidmouth branch open for up to six months beyond September if the banking hub is not up and running by then.

I’ll work hard to make sure people can access their banking services in East Devon. I'm exploring all options for other towns.

Finally, it was fantastic to see families and communities across East Devon coming together to celebrate the Coronation. My very best wishes to His Majesty the King.