A PILOT banking scheme which is being rolled out in a West Cumbrian supermarket has been welcomed by a community hit by multiple bank closures.

Tesco Superstore in Whitehaven is one of only three locations across the UK to be chosen for the pilot, which allows customers to deposit cash with a number of high street banks.

It comes after banks including NatWest, HSBC, Halifax and Barclays closed branches in Whitehaven over recent years - and TSB is also set to depart on September 4.

Liam Dixon, shift leader at Tesco Whitehaven, said: “We are proud to support this service for our town. It’s going really well and lots of people are using it already.”

A Tesco Bank spokesperson said: “As the largest bank-owned ATM network in the UK, Tesco Bank understands the vital role that cash plays in the daily lives of shoppers.

“The introduction of a multi-bank deposit machine at the Tesco Superstore in Whitehaven is part of an initial pilot that allows customers of a number of UK banks to deposit cash in a convenient, safe, and reliable way.”

Whitehaven Tesco is one of only three stores in the UK to host a cash deposit machine as part of a pilot scheme rolled out by Tesco BankWhitehaven Tesco is one of only three stores in the UK to host a cash deposit machine as part of a pilot scheme rolled out by Tesco Bank (Image: Newsquest)

Local businessman Gerard Richardson MBE, who owns Richardson’s of Whitehaven, said: “I think it’s a very good idea and one that will alleviate a lot of worry for many people who worry that cash is dying out.

“On the flip side of course, we still have the Cumberland Building Society and Santander and I’d encourage folk to use them as much as possible, having lost so many other banks recently. Use them or lose them.”

Charles Maudling, chairman of Whitehaven and District Chamber of Trade, said: “It's a start, it’s  most welcome. We still need a banking hub in the town centre. I believe that is essential.”

Josh MacAlister, MP for Whitehaven and Workington, said: "I welcome any measure to improve access to financial services in Whitehaven.

"With TSB soon to close its doors we'll be left with only one high street bank in the town, which is why I am determined to get a new Banking Hub.

"Labour promised to deliver hundreds more banking hubs in towns across the country and I'll be doing what I can to make sure one comes to Whitehaven."

Joseph Ghayouba, who represents Bransty on Cumberland Council, said: “Whilst I welcome this announcement because access to cash is incredibly important for small businesses, those who find online banking difficult and rural communities.

“Nevertheless, the fact remains that Tesco banking is now run  and owned by Barclays Bank in which they pay Tesco £50m per year for the name; the nearest branch for Barclays customers will soon be Carlisle once the Cockermouth branch closes.

“Barclays have closed more branches more quickly than any other high street bank. They are responsible for 20 per cent of all branch closures since 2015 which deprives communities of vital banking services.”

Cash deposits can be made at the new facility in Tesco Whitehaven with the following banks: Bank of Scotland, Halifax, NatWest, Royal bank of Scotland, Lloyds Bank and Barclays.