Former bank could become vets to meet boom in pet ownership

Barclays Bank has announced the closure of the Halesworth branch.Picture: Nick Butcher

Wangford Vets has submitted plans to move into the former Barclays bank in Halesworth - Credit: Nick Butcher

A Suffolk vets has outlined its intention to open a new practice at the site of a former bank in a bid to meet a growing demand for its services.

Wangford Veterinary Clinic has submitted plans to convert the former Barclays bank in Thoroughfare, in Halesworth, into a bespoke service which can better meet the needs of its customers.

Charles White, clinic practice manager, said he believes the reason for the rising demand is related to the spike in pet ownership during the Covid pandemic.

He added: "Our industry has seen a surge in pet ownership over the past two years and with a deficit in staffing numbers due to graduates not coming through, we are struggling to keep up with the demand.

"This is putting a strain on our teams as they are working day and night to provide care.

"We hope to work in partnership with other independent practices to help share the labour and relieve pressure on individual team members while still maintaining a high standard of care and cover."

Charles White, right, and Walter Stöhr (owner/director), left

Charles White, right, and Walter Stöhr (owner/director), left - Credit: Charles White

Mr White added a big reason for the application was the prospect of being closer to clients.

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He said: "We know that a lot of our clients travel quite some distance to reach us.

"We realise that over the past few years, a lot of people have changed practices from further afield, including in Halesworth."

The application states that there will be a daytime specialist referral centre which will help small animals in need of specialised therapies and overnight emergency critical care.

The new vets would also help assist several small practices in the area that require help with increasing demand on its services.

Barclays bank closed in November 2020, but the move was slammed at the time by Suffolk Coastal MP Thérèse Coffey - calling the decision a "bitter blow" as it left the town without a bank.

Speaking at the time, she said: “This is an incredibly disappointing decision. While 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.”