A WELSH Government inquiry has been set up to investigate the closure of bank branches across Wales.

Over 200 branches have closed across the country since 2008, leaving towns such as Newcastle Emlyn and Llandysul without a single bank branch.

Both Barclays and Lloyds have pulled the plug on their high street branches at Newcastle Emlyn in recent months, while in Cardigan, NatWest closed its branch almost a year ago.

Many rural communities are now forced to rely on mobile banking facilities or the local Post Office and the closure of high street branches has been condemned by Ceredigion MP Ben Lake.

Now the National Assembly’s Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee has launched an inquiry looking at access to banking services across Wales.

The committee will be looking at the ways in which branch closures and access to free ATMs can affect local communities.

The committee says it wants to hear the views of people in communities affected by bank closures and will also be taking evidence from expert witnesses who have carried out research into the problem already.

Ben Cottam, head of external affairs for the Federation of Small Businesses Wales said: “The withdrawal of banking facilities is a real concern for businesses across Wales.

“There can’t be many communities in Wales which haven’t seen the loss of one or more banks in recent years and for businesses, this has meant the loss of banking relationship managers and financial expertise, the need to travel long distances to deposit sometimes significant sums of cash.

“Furthermore, we see the withdrawal of cash machines as banks close. For rural areas and tourist economies which are heavily dependent on case, this represents a significant problem for smaller businesses.

“I’d encourage small business owners to take a few minutes to share the many problems bank closures are causing for their business, to help provide evidence for the committee to make recommendations for action.”

The committee’s call for written evidence is open until May 17. An online survey asking people for their experiences of accessing bank services will also run until the end of May.

Go to senedd.assembly.wales/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=25058

The deadline for submissions to this consultation is Friday, 17 May.