Do you remember the adverts of just a few years ago for NatWest, the 'helpful' bank which promised not to close the last branch in town?

How times have changed.  Last week the NatWest branch in Pulborough closed, and the Barclays branch in the village will close in October.  Further announcements of bank closures in West Sussex villages are imminent.

Online banking is revolutionising the sector.  The Chairman of Lloyds Banking Group says that the industry faces more change in the next 10 years than there has been in the past 200.

The British Bankers Association says that £1 billion of transactions a day are now done via mobile and internet banking.  More than 15,000 people download a banking app each a day.  Since 2000, over 2,350 high-street branches have closed.

Our villages aren't immune from these changes.  Barclays say that use of its Pulborough branch has fallen by over 60 per cent since 2008.

RBS, which owns NatWest, says that across its network branch transactions have declined by around 36 per cent since 2010, while online and mobile transactions have grown by more than 300 per cent.  Less than a tenth of its total transactions are now undertaken in its branches, compared to a quarter just five years ago.

Still, many people - especially small businesses with cash requirements and the elderly who may well not bank online - need local banking services.  These can be provided by post offices, and the bank branches that our closing say they've made arrangements for their customers at local post offices.

But Pulborough's post office has yet again closed.  Fortunately, unlike the bank branches, this is temporary: the Post Office assure me that they remain committed to finding a new outlet in the village.

In fact, the Government's rules require 95 per cent of the total rural population to be within three miles of their nearest post office outlet, so post offices in each of our major villages should be maintained.

Local services must innovate to meet new consumer demands.  What matters is to ensure that as the delivery of services changes they remain accessible to all.

Nick HerbertEconomy