Last bank closure decision branded a ‘dereliction of banking duty’
- Credit: Nick Butcher
The decision to close the last bank in Halesworth has been described as deplorable and a “dereliction of banking duty” by the town council and county councillor.
On Friday, Barclays announced the closure of their branch on the town’s Thoroughfare, to take place on November 30, only months after providing reassurances to residents and councillors that they would not be closing following the loss of a Lloyds’ branch in January this year.
Tony Goldson, Suffolk County and Waveney District councillor for Halesworth, said Barclays’ withdrawal from the town was a disaster for business and elderly people.
He said: “I am bitterly disappointed. It is a disaster for Halesworth and a disaster for businesses.
“Even the post office is too overwhelmed. We haven’t got the infrastructure to cope with the loss of a bank. Lloyds bring a mobile banking caravan now and Barclays are pulling out, it is just disastrous.”
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He added: “Elderly people who rely on the bank to do their banking will no longer have that facility.
“It is a dereliction of banking duty. They have a responsibility to people who invest their money in banks to provide a service. We are now going to be left out on a limb.”
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Halesworth Town Council said while they accept more people use online banking, having a physical branch remains crucial to elderly residents and businesses.
A spokesman said: “Halesworth Town Council deplore the decision by Barclays Bank to close the last remaining bank in the town taking with them the only 24 hour cash point.
“Although we accept more people bank on line, and that we are moving towards a cashless society, many citizens, especially the elderly, still need the services of a branch bank.
They added: “Cash is still central to many of the Town’s businesses, so where will they deposit their takings when the last bank in Halesworth closes? Yet again banks put their profits and bonuses before the needs of the wider population.
“People are more likely to shop in a town with a bank, and the Town Council’s fear is that this action will have a very negative effect on the economy of our Town. We encourage Barclays to re-think their decision.”
Chris Channell, deputy community banking director for Barclays Norfolk and Suffolk said: “As we said early this year we regularly review where to open new branches, invest in existing ones, change opening hours or close branches, depending on how our customers choose to bank with us.
“However as customer behaviour evolves over time, we aren’t able to provide definitive commitments about any branch and we have continued to see a reduction in transactions at Halesworth, with an 11 per cent reduction in personal counter transactions in the last two years.”
He added: “At the branch in Halesworth more than 70 per cent of the customers of the branch are already using online, mobile or telephone banking.
“We have offered to meet with the local council, and the Member of Parliament in order to discuss this change and how we will support customers in the run up to the closure.”