“Ideally, there would be bank offices, but against the closure of branches we cannot do anything,” explains Víctor Alonso, vice president of the Valladolid Provincial Council and promoter of the Pilot Plan for Proximity Financial Services, through which the institution will install five ATMs in five Valladolid municipalities that were left without bank offices. In the whole province there are 172 municipalities in this situation and Valladolid is not the most affected by what experts call “financial desertification”: in all of Castilla y León 79 percent of the towns do not have offices.
In San Miguel del Arroyo, with 671 inhabitants, a decade ago there were two branches of two different entities. “First one closed. Then another, although they assured us that an office truck would come every week. At first it was like that, but it ended up not coming back,” explains Mayor José Arenal. This situation has caused problems for the neighbors that now the project of the Provincial Council wants to solve. “In the villages, not having cash is a problem, because most stores do not accept card payments,” he says.
The Provincial Council is going to disburse some 300,000 euros in the next five years for this pilot plan from which five municipalities that have been without bank branches for years will benefit. It is a patch, because residents who need to do more complicated banking operations, such as transfers, cancellations or direct debits, will have to continue moving to larger cities. “There is no law that obliges the banks to stay, and as long as that is the case, we have to help our citizens have an easier life,” Alonso responds.
The ATMs of the Provincial Council are being installed these weeks in Valdestillas, in Olmedo street 3, and that will continue in the coming days in Alcazarén (July 14, Hospital street, 2), San Miguel del Arroyo (July 20, Real, 18), La Pedraja de Portillo (July 21, Plaza Pósito s / n) and Matapozuelos (July 22, Ramón y Cajal street, 7). The company in charge of the management is Cardtronics Spei SLU, and according to the Provincial Council, one of the conditions is that there is hardly any commission for users.
There are about thirty entities that will not charge commission, although the vice president of the Provincial Council assumes that there will be people who if they are with a different bank will have to pay 2.90 euros. Most of the banking entities that will go without commission have a good implantation in the territory. In the coming months, the objective of the Valladolid Provincial Council is to acquire a kind of bus or truck with an ATM that allows routes to the rest of the municipalities that do not have offices in the Valladolid province.