A few weeks ago, I lost my bank card. After reporting it lost to my bank, I had to rely on that tried and tested form of payment – cash.

Cash remains important to millions of people and businesses across the UK. I fully understand the continuing need for cash for a whole variety of reasons. Access to your bank account and free ATMs must be protected to ensure easy access to cash. I am also clear that parking meters should cater to those of us who prefer cash.

Bank branch closures are a regular grumble in East Devon, so I thought I’d update you on the situation locally.

Exmouth’s NatWest branch shut its doors last month. I’ve been in touch with the organisation behind banking hubs – LINK – to raise concerns about banking provision in Exmouth and push for a banking hub. They only open once the last bank in town closes.

Sidmouth’s Lloyds branch – which is the last bank in town – will also be shutting its doors next year. It’s being kept open until the new Banking Hub is set up. I’ve been in touch with the people charged with getting Sidmouth’s new Banking Hub up and running. I’m pleased to report that it is on track to open by March 2024. Design work has taken place and I hope to reveal the location soon once the legal contracts are signed.

Sidmouth’s Banking Hub will have two different things inside it. Firstly, a counter where customers from any bank can do basic banking services like depositing cash and cheques when the bank is open, Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm. Secondly, an advice room – staffed by one bank a day – where customers of the bank available on the daily rota can get advice for things like mortgages, loans, and pensions.

As you can see in the picture taken on a recent visit to Axminster, the town's new banking hub is taking shape. I recognise that access to cash is crucial for many people and businesses, and I'll always work hard to protect it.