Trawden’s story offers hope for cities facing big bank exodus
It’s time to raise a glass of mulled wine to the people of Trawden in Lancashire.
This year, they came together to save their local pub from closure – a triumph after saving the village’s only store, postal service, community center and library. They now also have access to cash on the streets.
Their fighting spirit breathed new life into the community. It also sends a positive message to communities from top to bottom of the country – at risk of losing their pubs, bank branches and ATMs – that they can fight against big cities and public institutions that have little or no money. interest in preserving the infrastructure of small towns and villages.
Cheers! Toby Walne, left, with owner Adam Young and his partner Jo Stafford, villagers Stephen Wilcock and Molly Ralphson
Earlier this year, the Trawden Arms was destined for the chop after 127 years of serving the locals. Plans were underway to turn the building into apartments by the developers.
But the community of 2,000 has come together to raise £ 520,000 so the pub can continue to serve the residents of Trawden for years to come.
It is the latest in a series of survival “miracles” that the villagers have invented to keep the fabric of the community intact.
Desperate to find out the secret to its success, I stand at the pub bar in this former cotton-spinning village in the Pennines with a frothy pint of Pride of Pendle in my hand.
The beer comes from the Moorhouse Brewery, eight miles away in the football town of Burnley.
I receive a warm welcome from new owners Adam Young and his partner Jo Stafford, who arrived from Leeds last month.
Has your community come together to save a vital high street service? E-mail [email protected]
Adam explains, “There is something really special about the community spirit here in Trawden.
“The secret to the pub’s survival is that we are not the only ones running it – there are 400 other owners living in the village.”
Adam refers to the 400 villagers who bought a share of the inn, paying at least £ 500 each to ensure its survival.
Although not a wealthy community, they managed to raise £ 460,000. Plunkett Foundation, a charity, donated an additional £ 30,000 and loaned an additional £ 30,000 to make the purchase possible.
Part of the pub’s appeal is that as co-owners, many villagers want to use it more than ever before, even suggesting new ways of using the pub.
I’m too early for both the weekly ‘folk music night’ where locals sit by the open fire to sing songs and play music – and for a special festive visit by Christmas carol singers who collect funds to repair the roof of the village church.
During the day, activities include Christmas wreath making and willow weaving lessons.
It must be a thirsty job as the pub is thriving like never before, selling up to 1,000 pints per week, up from pre-owned community sales.
Steven Wilcock, President of the Trawden Forest Community Pub Group, joins me for a drink.
His modest demeanor hides the true Lancastrian courage and determination that was required to transform what was quickly becoming a ghost community into a thriving and bustling village.
Steven was instrumental in transforming this community seven years ago when the local district council decided to close the community center.
Then the county council closed the library and the post office unplugged the village.
Steven says, “It was an uphill battle. Individually we don’t roll the money, but there is something about this old cotton-spinning community that binds us together as family.
In the cobbled streets of the village, friendliness is embodied by the tightly packed Victorian terraced houses that were built for the mill workers.
Three-year-old Gracey Farthing with her grandmother Emma Haines in the shop
Opposite the pub is a shop with an adjoining library and next to it a community center – all of which have been rescued by the locals.
Deep in the library, a local postmaster visits him every Monday morning – but only because the locals were ready to provide him with premises.
This service allows residents to deposit cash or checks into their bank accounts or make withdrawals.
The shop also allows customers to use a refund service up to £ 50 six days a week. Buyers only need to make a penny purchase to use the service.
A pool of 80 volunteers work two-hour shifts to keep the store open. The pub and shop are run on a commercial basis, with profits being reinvested in services.
Molly Ralphson is the Volunteer Coordinator at the Boutique and Library, which reopened in 2018 after two years of fundraising.
The aisles are filled with local produce, including irresistible nut cakes and homemade brownies. With an eye on the environment, essentials such as coffee, tea, sugar, flour and a range of spices and herbs are sold without packaging. Residents simply bring their own containers.
Nicola Sharples, a local resident and jeweler, regularly receives £ 20 cashback from the shop. The 56-year-old says: “When it comes to budget, there is nothing better than having money on hand.
“Paying with cards is dangerous because you never know exactly how much you are spending. Last week, a bank-backed cash access action group announced that by the end of the year, 2,000 stores across the country will offer a refund service without customers having to worry about it. need to buy anything. Currently, 1,000 offer this service.
It will also deploy shared banking hubs in five new cities – branches where customers (individuals and businesses) can perform basic banking transactions as well as see a representative of their bank on a specific day of the work week.
These are in addition to two hubs – Rochford, Essex and Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire – which have been operating since April of this year. Eleven free ticket machines will also be open and 30 more can be installed at local post offices.
But Molly Ralphson is not impressed. She says, “Cashback is not a new idea. It’s just a smokescreen for the big banks to continue cutting branches and wrestling free ATMs at an alarming rate.
Over the past decade, a third of all bank branches have been closed with 4,300 closings since the start of 2015, the equivalent of 50 closings per month. Some 500 free ATMs are closed each month.
Natalie Ceeney, chair of the action group, said: “We know the demand for money is down – but we also know that it continues to play a vital role in the lives of at least five million people. people in the UK, including some of the most vulnerable. ‘
She adds, “The Rochford and Cambuslang shared banking hubs have shown that there are many ways to meet people’s cash flow needs. I have no doubts that our new plans lay the foundation for a positive future for access to cash across the UK. ‘
The Plunkett Foundation provides advice as well as financial support to those who wish to economize on community services.
Communications Officer Liz Woznicki said: “We provide free support to any community considering a condominium project, which includes legal advice.”
Remember we also need to help people go digital
By Lord Holmes, Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Banking Group and Fintech
It is nice to see the progress made in recent days in preserving access to cash on the main streets.
It’s a victory for Jeff Prestridge, personal finance editor for The Mail on Sunday, who fought long and hard to ensure communities across the country are not abandoned by the banks.
In recent years, there has been a real sense of hopelessness and powerlessness to act when a local bank branch closes. If you are elderly, disabled or poor, the only alternative is to travel to the nearest town – often time consuming, expensive and inconvenient.
For small businesses, the only options left were to go out of business in order to deposit their proceeds – or to stop accepting cash altogether. I hope the new framework put in place by the cash action group means that communities will have some form of recourse if their last branch in town is destined for closure. I am also confident that The Mail on Sunday will keep a close eye on what is going on and hold the offending banks to account.
We also need to seize this opportunity to reflect on the larger conversation around digital services that goes beyond banking.
Anyone wishing to book their booster, make an appointment with their doctor or even renew their subscription for their garden waste is invited to do so online.
Herein lies the desperation and frustration that many people face.
They are told over and over again that they can do things online without wondering if they are able to do it in the first place.
If you’re a digital fan, you can hop in the queue to renew your prescription or get a better rate on your savings account. If you’re not, then out of luck.
This is becoming a key public policy issue that was highlighted during the pandemic as many families struggled to educate their children at home because they did not have access to the internet. We need to provide high speed fiber optic access to every household. We also need to help people ‘go digital’.
It wasn’t that long ago that millions of people were switching their television sets from analog to digital. We are not reflecting on this exercise because it worked so well, but it was part of a large joint project of government, charities and industry.
The digital economy is here, but for many it is not and they are being left behind. We need to help these people go digital. It’s time for another joint project.
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on it, we may earn a small commission. This helps us fund This Is Money and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.