Yes, Southern “failed its customers, its duty to the environment and its stakeholders,” but the exact same could be said of Thames when she was in Macquarie’s hands, but strangely, the correspondence of Harrison with Cox doesn’t even mention his past association with the industry.
The regulator is quick to tout the wonderful job it has supposedly done to shake up the industry in recent years, but the fact that Southern had to be rescued in the first place is not a resounding endorsement of its reforms, while it is impossible to see Macquarie’s return as anything other than a deeply retrograde step.
To unite one of the world’s most predatory banks with Britain’s worst water supplier is a marriage of hell for customers and the environment.
Bank in the main street
It is an unfortunate feature of modern banking that the humble bank branch is seen as surplus to need. Thousands of branches have been removed from the network in recent years, in the name of cutting costs and the rise of digital banking.
NatWest alone has cut over 1,000 since 2015, roughly the equivalent of one every two days and not what you would expect from an organization that claims to “help people, families and businesses to thrive ”.
Enter the Financial Conduct Authority with plans to prevent big banks from pulling out of underserved areas. Critics will see it as an excess of regulation, but the closures are extremely damaging to communities. Some towns and villages have gone from being represented by all the big banks to virtually none overnight at the expense of the elderly and vulnerable, local businesses and the main street.
Also, one of the reasons branches are disappearing so quickly is that banks want cash to go into history. Isn’t that interventionist enough too?
This article is from The Telegraph’s City intelligence bulletin. register here for an incisive analysis of the day’s biggest corporate story by our chief city commentator, Ben Marlow.