A BANKING hub must be opened in Leigh to tackle the “appalling” lack of banks following a series of closures, an MP has insisted. 

Southend West MP Anna Firth, who has led calls for more banking hubs for two years, urged the Government to help open one in Leigh while speaking in the House of Commons yesterday.

More than 200 banking hubs – which offer services such as face-to-face financial advice and help with online banking – will open in the next 18 months. 

Since Leigh lost its last bank branch in September 2022, Ms Firth has lobbied “relentlessly” for a hub. 

However, current legislation means the Nationwide Building Society on Leigh Broadway prevents one from opening, even though it does not serve business customers.

Ms Firth said: “It is essential that people have access to face-to-face banking services and the banking hub model is a very good one, but none of the banks will provide such a hub if there is a building society that provides face-to-face services. One should not exclude the other.

“I have been campaigning for nearly two years to secure a banking hub in Leigh so my constituents and businesses can have access to the services they require and will continue to push for these services to be delivered as soon as possible.”

Former bank manager Peter Thorn, who lives in Marine Parade, said: “I think it’s appalling.

“We have to drive to Rayleigh to do our banking. In Leigh, all we’ve got is the Nationwide building society and the Post Office.

“It limits a lot of people who have make purposeful journeys just to use the bank.

“I think a lot of people would welcome one. Leigh certainly needs something.”

Ms Firth’s question in the House of Commons followed a meeting at the Treasury on Monday alongside Thérèse Coffey MP, Keir Mather MP, Robbie Moore MP and Andrew Bowie. 

John Howells, CEO of cashpoint network Link, was also present, along with Bim Afolami MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

Ms Firth is now pursuing an urgent meeting with Link and other key parties to set out the need for a banking hub in Leigh. Firth also plans to meet with the Post Office, which operates the 40 banking hubs which are currently open.