Last bank to shut in town as Barclays announce closure

Barclays bank in Halesworth which will close in November. Picture: Google

Barclays bank in Halesworth which will close in November. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

Another town has been left without a high street bank after Barclays announced they would be closing their branch in Halesworth.

Therese Coffey, Suffolk Coastal MP. Picture: Gregg Brown

Therese Coffey, Suffolk Coastal MP. Picture: Gregg Brown - Credit: Archant

It follows Lloyds’ closure of their branch in Halesworth in January meaning the town joins Bungay without a bank at all after Lloyds also shut the final bank branch in Bungay in May this year.

In a letter sent to account holders and seen by this newspaper, Barclays said the decision to close is “never an easy one” and said they would be talking to customers and the local community to “understand the concerns they may have” about the bank’s closure.

The bank, on Thoroughfare, will shut its doors for the final time on Friday, November 30.

The decision was slammed by Suffolk Coastal MP, Therese Coffey, who branded the decision a “bitter blow” to the town and “disappointing” after asking for assurances about the branch’s future in December last year and said she would take the issue up with government ministers.

She said: “This is an incredibly disappointing decision. Whilst I recognise many banking transactions are now done online Barclays’ own figures show that there are many people who still who still rely on High Street bank branches, especially elderly residents and local businesses.

“This is a particularly bitter blow as the closure of Barclays in Halesworth means there is now no bank branch left in the town.”

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Chris Channell, deputy community banking director for Barclays Norfolk and Suffolk pointed to the change in the way people are banking as the reason for the closure.

He said:“The way customers undertake their banking is changing as people increasingly use online, telephone and mobile devices.

“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 hope that the availability of the branches at Southwold, Beccles and Harleston and access to services at the nearby Post Office, along with our range of digital channels will help to ease the transition for our customers.”

Business and resident reaction

Alexander Carr, 73, has run Market Place Wine Shop for 40 years and has banked with Barclays since he was 18. He said the inevitable consequence of the decision would be shop closures.

He said: “It is absolutely appalling and I cannot find the words to state my anger. We are now expected to go to Beccles to get change and if you are running a business you have got to have change and I currently go twice a week.

“I should say the closure will kill Halesworth. People just won’t bother to come here and will buy things online and there won’t be any shops here at all.

“Without a bank I think we will find shop closures will happen.”

Ann Green, who runs Ann Green Secondhand Books on Steeple End, said: “A lot of my books are 50p and most are under £5, it’s just not viable to take card payments for those. Now there will be nowhere convenient to pay in cash and small change or for customers to draw cash to spend.

“I have already noticed that fewer people are coming into town because while they are forced to go elsewhere for banking they do their shopping in those places at the same time. It is disastrous news for our lovely town.”

John Hardisty, who used to live in Halesworth but now lives in Essex, said: “It’s a seriously bad day for Halesworth. The branch and staff were splendid. It’s not just a loss of a hole in the wall, it offered every kind of financial advice and service.

“Losing banking in a town reduces people visiting the town, destroying retail shops. There are still many that cannot or do not shop or bank online, particularly the elderly.”