BURY North MP James Frith has spoken about the detrimental effect that bank closures have had on Ramsbottom during a parliamentary debate.

Mr Frith contributed to the debate on community bank closures in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Barclays and Natwest have both closed their Ramsbottom branches in recent years, while the Royal Bank of Scotland reduced the opening hours of their branch in Bridge Street last year.

The MP told members that the town has been hit hard by the closures and now requires a community banking offer in order to make the town more attractive to businesses.

He said: “Community banks, and banks generally, bring tradespeople to the town.

“They increase footfall and help to determine a town’s future prospects.

“Paying in, cashing up, small impulse buys, floats, cash-only stalls, making deposits and general local bank services are all still part of business life and life and living in Ramsbottom.

“A bank nearby is likely to determine the opening hours of any retail operation or business, as the proprietor will need to factor in the bank’s closing time with that of their business and the leaving time of their staff.

“It will be one of the things that a business proprietor considers in determining where to set up in the first place, and if a local authority is struggling to attract new shops, it will understandably opt for another eatery for the night-time economy or reach for a high-street name, thus risking diluting the independent offer of a town like ours, which is, in its first instance, the fundamental nature of the place and why visitors come at all.”

Mr Frith went on to praise the independent nature of Ramsbottom and relayed the views of a number of the town’s business owners, including Louise Isherwood from Ramsbottom Sweet Shop, who said she had noticed a drop in footfall since the two banks closed.

He then urged the Government to intervene by making a commitment to community banking and sponsoring more banks that operate at break even or not for profit.

Mr Frith asked them to consider extending the role and mandate of credit unions and called for the introduction of rewards in the form of tax incentives for community banking operations.