Even a hail storm couldn’t stop the installation of a new ATM cash machine at the Post Office in Institute Road in Swanage, bringing it one step closer to becoming a banking hub after the closure of the last bank in the town.
Despite Swanage making a strong case for the need to provide cash for businesses, tourists and an elderly population, Lloyds Bank closed its High Street branch in September 2022 but now there’s hope that the newly relocated Post Office will be able to provide more banking services.
Post Office manager Emma Whitmarsh with the new cash machine
Open all hours ATM is free to use
On Wednesday 12th April 2023, six months after the Post Office moved from Kings Road, the long awaited cash machine was installed at its new premises in Institute Road – the next phase of postmaster Liam Searle’s plan to become a fully operational banking hub for the town.
One of the building’s full length windows was removed in a well planned operation to be replaced by a secure tempered frontage, with work continuing even as a half-hour hailstorm lashed down on high winds.
Along with two secure counters which offer banking services as well as post office facilities, the new building now has an external 24/7 cash machine to serve the town and its visitors.
Although it’s a Cash Link machine, it is free to use – while there was an option to charge a fee, Liam said the aim was to provide access to cash for the community, not to make a profit.
Postmaster Liam Searle at the new Post Office before installation work began
“Cash is very important to Swanage”
Liam Searle said:
“With the loss of all the banks in Swanage, the Post Office had not only an opportunity but also an obligation to step in and become a hub for businesses to deposit and withdraw cash over our counters.
“As part of that service, we have finally managed to get the ATM reinstalled in the branch.
“Cash is very important to a seaside town like Swanage, we read stories about Britain becoming a cashless society, but things are a bit different here.
“You see it with the holiday makers, who often set a budget when they arrive in town and having access to cash is an important budgetary tool. Beyond that, Swanage has a predominantly older population and they like using cash.
“As much as parts of the country are moving away from cash, certainly there are areas of the country that aren’t and Swanage shouldn’t have to suffer for what’s happening in London.
“If there are sectors of the community that still want to have access to cash, then I want to provide that service for them. I understand the world is moving on and we are using cash less and less as a society, but it’s not dead yet!”
An entire window was taken out before the worst of the weather arrived
A challenging six months since moving
“We’ve had a challenging six months since we moved; there were a few strikes which were costly, the ferry being out of service impacted the whole town, and then there was the cyber incident when we couldn’t take any international mail for a few weeks so it has been a bit of a struggle.
“But that would have been the same whether we had relocated or not, so moving into the town centre was most definitely the right thing to have done and we are settling in nicely.
“Post offices have always had four main tasks; parcels, travel documents and money, bill payments and banking, and we are well on our way to becoming the banking hub of the town.
“Business may be changing nationally towards online transactions and remote payments, but access to cash and face to face banking is still very important to Swanage and we hope to fill that need.”
Half way through the build as the plan comes together
“Good for the night time economy”
This cashpoint brings the number of ATMs in the town back to four, with others available at the Co-op, at the building society Nationwide and in the old NatWest building.
Chair of Swanage Chamber of Trade and town councillor Caroline Finch welcomed the arrival of the new ATM at the Post Office and said:
“Cash is very important to Swanage, whether it’s for businesses who primarily serve tourists and need to take it during summer, or for older residents who are more comfortable with cash than with contactless payments.
“It is very good news that a new ATM has been installed in such an important location, which will also be good for the night time economy and vital for tourism in summer.
“The absence of the ferry through winter had a huge impact on the town economy, with some establishments up to 40 percent down and anything that can make summer easier for the town is very welcome.
“A lot of people like to pay by cash, and even for those who are happy using a smart phone, technology can’t always be relied on to work when you need it most.
“From the Chamber’s point of view, it will make a huge difference to the town and we are thrilled that Liam’s vision for the Post Office is coming together in such a positive way.”