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Councillors Push For Banking Hub in Portstewart Amid Financial Access Concerns

causeway coast community Jun 18, 2024
Banking Hub Portstewart

Portstewart may soon see the establishment of a banking hub, thanks to a proactive push by local Councillors.

At the Leisure and Development Committee meeting this evening, Alderman Mark Fielding, with support from Alderman Sharon McKillop, proposed a motion to lobby the LINK Network for a comprehensive review and assessment of the town's banking needs.

With a resident population nearing 8,000, Portstewart is the fourth-largest town in the borough. 

Beyond its permanent residents, the town hosts many second-home owners, students, and tourists, particularly during weekends and holidays.

Despite this, banking services remain limited, with only one 24-hour ATM serving the entire community.

"The return of comprehensive banking services to town centres is critical," Alderman Fielding emphasised. "A banking hub would provide essential financial services to our residents and support the local economy, especially our nighttime economy."

The proposed banking hub would operate as a shared space accessible to customers of all banking institutions. These hubs are staffed by post office employees, offering a full range of banking services, including cash withdrawals and deposits, bill payments, and private consultations for more complex financial matters.

Research from the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland has highlighted the growing reliance on accessible banking services. Many consumers still prefer in-person transactions despite the digital age.

Alderman McKillop stressed the importance of such facilities, particularly for the most vulnerable residents who must travel long distances to access essential banking services.

"Banking hubs are a sustainable model for the future," Alderman McKillop said. "They ensure that essential services remain within reach, supporting our town's social and economic fabric."

The motion received widespread support during the council meeting, with members recognising the benefits of restoring robust banking services to Portstewart.

The council has now tasked its officers with drafting a formal request to LINK, seeking an urgent review and assessment of the community’s banking needs.

If successful, Portstewart could join other towns in Northern Ireland that have already benefited from the introduction of banking hubs, offering a lifeline to local businesses and residents alike.

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