Sunday, December 10

The cashier in the plenary hall of the Badajoz town of Torremayor or how necessity sharpens ingenuity

That an ATM has to be recharged from the plenary hall of a town hall or that its plenary sessions are enlivened by the characteristic sounds of dialing the pin or secret number is not something usual, although it is the only way that the residents of the municipality pacense de Torremayor have to access their accounts and withdraw cash.

Halfway between Mérida and Badajoz, Torremayor, with its little more than a thousand inhabitants, a few years ago enjoyed a privileged situation from the banking point of view, since it had two offices of two financial entities that served its neighbors.

One of them closed a few years ago and the one that remained, which was open for a few hours two days a week, closed its doors at the beginning of the year, due to the merger processes that are leaving more and more Spaniards miles from a bank branch .

Considered as a basic service, access to banks is complicated in a region like Extremadura, with great geographical dispersion and in which nearly 40% of its 388 municipalities, in which 1,054,779 people reside, do not have a bank branch. Since 2015 alone, the number of these in Extremadura has fallen from 1,038 to 724, according to data from the Bank of Spain as of March 31 of this year.

Problems for the elderly but also for shops and restaurants that have nowhere to put their boxes. A situation that put Manuel Estribio, mayor of Torremayor, on alert, who, after several failed attempts in conversations with different financial entities, found in the Badajoz Provincial Council the best travel companion to carry out his purpose, which was none other than his town had an ATM, where his neighbors could withdraw and enter cash, make transfers or update their cards, among other procedures.

Said and done, the Torremayor City Council and the Badajoz Provincial Council signed an agreement within the Financial Exclusion Plan of the provincial institution for the installation, rental and maintenance for five years of the only ATM that this town in Badajoz currently has.

A cashier for which there was no other place than the plenary hall of the Torremayorense City Council. “It was the only option we had,” the mayor tells us about him. An atypical circumstance that has forced to reinforce the different security systems of the consistory and that makes, as Manuel Estribio explains, that “there are plenary sessions in which there is a lot of noise”. But “it was a necessity,” he insists.

Your neighbors appreciate your efforts. Alicia Flores decided twelve years ago to change the regional capital for Torremayor, the town of her husband. She tells us about the quality of life in the towns but she also tells us about the lack of services in them, and not just banking. “We need more and better services to live here, which is what we want.”

Alicia lives with her family just a few steps from the only ATM and recognizes the need to have a basic service like this, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Moving to the neighboring town of Montijo, located six kilometers from Torremayor, is not a solution for everyone. With more than a third of the population over 65 years of age and a single daily bus that connects both towns and stops only if it sees passengers waiting, the distance between the two municipalities becomes greater. There is also no possibility of traveling by taxi, since the last two taxi drivers that Torremayor had retired a few years ago.

And this is how the “Town Hall cashier” has managed to give life to a town and its neighbors, especially the older ones, who have had to adapt in record time to new technologies. Although they know that if they have a problem, the City Council staff is there to lend them a hand.