A West Midland building society boss has called for a halt to bank and building society branch closures.
Stephen Karle, operations director of the West Bromwich, spoke out following recent research that showed that more than 6,000 outlets have shut since 1990.
Figures from the Annual Abstract of Banking Statistics reveal that banks have reduced their networks by 27 per cent since 1995.
In the same period, the building society branch network has reduced by five per cent and Post Offices by 18 per cent.
The trend was highlighted recently by the decision by former building society Birmingham Midshires, now part of the Halifax and Bank of Scotland group, to close 48 of its 67 branches.
That has resulted in a big increase in business for the West Brom and other local building societies as Midshires customers look for new homes for their savings.
But while the West Brom welcomes the added business, the closures are bad news for traders and local people who are being denied a choice and local service, Mr Karle said.
"Although we clearly welcome an increase in business, I am deeply saddened for local people and traders who are being forced to travel further and further a field for a local financial service provider.
"I cannot accept that the days of the branch network has died, otherwise why would over 600 new savings accounts be opened in our Wednesbury branch alone."
The West Brom has opened new branches in Telford, Tamworth and Kings Heath and a new outlet will launch soon in Kidderminister.
"All our research shows that local people want and need a local service," said Mr Karle.
"Building societies and banks have always been a fundamental part of community life. If that evaporates, what chance do communities have of long-term survival?"