FEARS for business in north Harrow high street were raised by the MP for the area during a Commons debate on regeneration of high streets yesterday.

Gareth Thomas MP, for Harrow west, called for support after the closure of the high street’s last bank, Lloyds TSB, which closed its doors last Friday.

Mr Thomas said the branch was the only one the bank has shut during recent months in London due to a decline in customers.

He added he has been in contact with the bank urging them to reconsider its decision and to work with Harrow Council, including providing financial support to help promote north Harrow to new businesses.

He added: “First, we have asked it to work with the local council to think about what it can put back into north Harrow to support businesses in the area.

“Secondly, we have asked the bank to look at how it can work with the post office in north Harrow to extend the range of services that Lloyds customers use. Many constituents are not aware that the post office provides a service for Lloyds bank customers.

“The concern is that many people who previously came to north Harrow to use the bank will not recognise that they can use the post office for their banking needs and will instead go to other areas, including, worst of all, neighbouring areas such as Hillingdon, Brent or Hertfordshire."

Andrew Stunell, parliamentary under-secretary of state for communities and local government, backed Mr Thomas’s call for Lloyds to do more to support North Harrow.

He said during the debate: “I will tell him that I too have been trying to ensure that banks withdrawing from high streets and local centres in my constituency accept their corporate responsibility. I hope he understands that I stand with him on that issue.

“Large chains, whether banks or retailers, should show some responsibility by investing in local communities. In this case, they are disinvesting in local communities. Their role is important and should not be overlooked.”

Mr Thomas highlighted that the area’s problems started with the closure of supermarket Safeway in 2002.

He urged the owners of the lease of the former Safeway site, Genesis Housing Association (who own the flats above the site), and Harrow Council to promote the site to new stores.

He said: “New flats have been built above the store to house key workers, but the space that Safeway occupied still has no businesses in it, which appears to be the result of a problem over the ownership of the lease.

“The local council is looking at the issue, but I hope that the owners of the lease and, indeed, the Genesis housing association, which built the flats above the space, will work much harder with the local council in the early part of 2011 to resolve the question of the lease once and for all.

"That will enable this crucial space to be promoted again so that we can have businesses in it.”

He noted that north Harrow is currently last in a list of Harrow’s district centres for business viability but praised existing businesses in the area.

He said: “Britain’s best fish and chip shop is probably in north Harrow, but there are also a series of superb cafés, delis and Indian restaurants. Other businesses include great newsagents and a fantastic shoe repairers."