MP says loss of Gainsborough branch of Santander bank is greatly troubling

Sir Edward Leigh MP
Sir Edward Leigh MP

Access to services can be more difficult for us in rural areas, which is why I have been greatly troubled by the closure of bank branches in my constituency, writes Sir Edward Leigh MP.

When a bank branch in London shuts you can barely swing a cat for the availability of other branches or other banks.

But in Lincolnshire we are not so well provided for.

The recent announcement from Santander that it will be closing its Gainsborough branch is a cause for concern.

I have written to the chief executive officer of Santander UK voicing my strenuous objection to this planned closure.

The fact remains that bank branches are incredibly useful institutions.

Despite the increase in being able to do all kinds of business online, there is still a great value in face-to-face encounters.

And, as I have pointed out ad infinitum to BT and other entities, access to broadband internet of sufficient quality is far from universal in many parts of the county.

Even when you do have good internet, there is a value in doing business face-to-face that is unquantifiable.

This is even more the case given the sharp rise in the scamming of bank customers by fraudsters who ‘phish’ for sensitive information via telephone or email.

I have pointed all this out to the chief executive of Santander UK and asked him to revisit the planned closure of the branch in Gainsborough, given the value it provides both to his company and to the community.

RAF Scampton is again in the news thanks to the strong campaign to keep it open.

I secured a debate in the Commons to force Ministers to hear the case for keeping it open.

History fans like me love that Scampton has been at the heart of the RAF, having been home to the famous Dambusters squadron.

But Scampton still has defence potential today.

The Red Arrows make good use of the uncrowded Lincolnshire skies and the base has already been shut and re-opened once already, because once the Red Arrows had moved those behind the decision realised what a mistake it was.

In all my speeches and representations regarding defence more broadly, I point out that we mustn’t forget that what we don’t need right now, we might need in ten years, a year, or even five minutes time.

Given the poor state of UK-Russia relations, for example, it is not inconceivable that things may heat up over the North Sea.

If so, it is much easier to move a fighter squadron or two up to Scampton if the base remains open.

If the base is sold off and redeveloped it would be impossible.

Nonetheless, West Lindsey Council and Lincolnshire County Council are working hard to ensure that – if the base is shut – the Ministry of Defence is careful in disposing of its property.

Britain has learnt a lot since the closure of RAF bases like Binbrook and Hemswell Cliff and I’m sure that with proper engagement, everyone will avoid the mistakes made there.