Column by the leader of Stroud District Council, Doina Cornell.

THIS week got off to a sad start with the news that Dursley’s branch of Lloyds Bank is closing.

It’s a blow - Lloyds was my first bank when I turned 18 (before I lived in Dursley) so it’s not just a bank but a part of our lives too.

We have already lost the branches of HSBC and Barclays in several of our market towns and I worry what this could mean for local trade.

I will be asking Lloyds for a full consultation and a guarantee that people will still be able to access services who can’t get online for whatever reason.

We are told there will still be a mobile branch visiting, as people do need to deposit cash, not just traders but charities too.

We heard recently as well that the local Co-op in Cainscross might close.

The news brings our high streets into sharp focus and is a reminder of how we can all make a difference by supporting local businesses and shopping local.

There is plenty to buy and do in all our towns whatever your budget – independent shops in Nailsworth, great places to eat out in Stonehouse, specialist shops in Dursley, cinema and pubs in Wotton, great historical days out in Berkeley not to mention all that Stroud has to offer and community shops everywhere from Coaley to Horsley.

It is up to all of us to keep using our local solicitors, estate agents and post offices. From getting your hair cut to buying treats for your pet – it keeps the local economy going, jobs and money staying in our community.

As a council we support high streets in a wide variety of ways, including financial and regulatory support for festival and event organisers, offering discount and up to 100 per cent relief on business rates, we listened to communities who did not want car parking charges in Nailsworth, Dursley and Wotton-under-Edge, and in Stroud many spaces are free after 3pm.