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Transport 2000 Says Local Bank Closures Point to Need for Carbon Audits

4 January 2007
TRANSPORT 2000 [1] estimates that this week’s closure of the HSBC branch bank in Shepshed, Leicestershire will add 1.4 million extra miles to people’s travel, increasing congestion on already crowded local roads and buses, resulting in an estimated increase in carbon emissions of more than 500 tonnes per year and creating social exclusion for the community’s poor and elderly residents. Transport 2000 is calling for carbon audits of such decisions and a trial of 'shared banking' as a way of keeping local banking services available.

Banking giant HSBC has announced six branch closures over the first three weeks of January, coming on the heels of the closure of 70 branches over the past two years. Transport 2000 has joined local residents and campaign groups to call for a rethink of banking and government policy on provision of local services, using 'carbon audits' as criteria for major development and policy decisions that will affect local residents and the environment.

Stephen Joseph, executive director of Transport 2000, said, "The closure of this HSBC branch is a perfect example of the erosion of local services in small towns, which forces local residents to use motor transport to conduct the business of their daily lives that they once could accomplish on foot. In Shepshed, HSBC will close the last of four banks that once existed in the town, forcing the town’s 15,000+ residents to make a 10 mile return trip to Loughborough to do any banking, which will result in both social and environmental impacts."

Derek French, Honorary Director of the Campaign for Community Banking Services, estimated that once the Shepshed HSBC branch is closed, an additional 1.4 million miles per year will be added to the local road network between Shepshed and Loughbourough.[2] Transport 2000 estimates that the additional amount of cars on the road resulting from this increase would create over 500 tonnes of extra CO2 emissions each year, enough to provide power to 100 London homes for an entire year.[3]

Carbon emissions aside, according to Terry Kirby, Transport 2000 Coordinator for Leicestershire, the local road network cannot sustain such a volume of additional traffic. "The road is already congested, especially at peak times. In addition, there are plans to add 4-5,000 new homes in the area, which will bring an already overloaded local road network to a grinding halt.

"As for public transport, Arriva runs four buses per hour between the towns, but their fares have skyrocketed 40% in the last year, making them unaffordable to the poor. This is now a social exclusion issue as well. The competing bus company, which has lower fares, only runs two buses per hour, and theirs are packed to the gills already," Kirby added.

Transport 2000 says the wider impacts of decisions like this need to be considered. Stephen Joseph said: "Decisions like these have grave impacts not only on the quality of life of local residents, but also on the environment due to increased emissions. Government should require a 'carbon audit' of such decisions – and should audit its own policy decisions, so that the full impacts on climate change are clear." Transport 2000 also added its voice to the Campaign for Community Banking Service’s call for trials of 'shared banking' where different companies can share local branch facilities, thus keeping local access to financial services.

Notes to editors

1 - Transport 2000 represents the key transport interests of around 40 environmental groups, transport organisations and transport unions. It brings together people who seek to reduce the environmental and social effects of transport through encouraging less use of cars, lorries and planes and more use of rail, buses, trams, cycling and walking.

2- Estimate assumes 5,000 households and 500 small businesses of all types within the Shepshed population of 15,000 plus rural hinterland. Using a conservative estimate of 2 bank visits per month for households and 4 per month for small businesses, Shepshed represents a total of 144,000 banking visits per year. Based on a 10 mile round trip journey from Shepshed to the nearest bank branch in Loughborough, this would result in an additional 1.4 million miles per year. (Written Communication with Transport 2000, January 2, 2007.)

3- Carbon emissions calculation assumes 10 percent of residents would use bus transport between Shepshed and Loughborough. Also assumes average car mileage of 8.7litres/100 km (DfT, Transport Statistics for Great Britain, 2006), 11.60 KwH/litre of fuel oil and 0.24kg CO2/KwH (www.carbontrust.co.uk, 2007).

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