As many of you will be aware, banks are moving out of High Street counter services. We’ve seen many banks close in recent years and Barclays have announced they intend to close their Stanhope branch in April. This is especially concerning to me as Barclays is the last bank counter in Weardale and the nearest banks to Stanhope will now be Middleton-In-Teesdale and Bishop Auckland. Moreover, online, mobile and telephone banking is not accessible to many. The bank is an important service for businesses too and for access to cash - especially for the elderly and those managing tight budgets.
Following their announcement, Barclays have had meetings with our local Weardale Councillors and me this week. I followed up this conversation with a letter to their Chief Executive, which they have now responded to and I wanted to update you with details of.
In answer to my questions, Barclays have said the following:
- Barclays say transactions have declined by 38 per cent over a two-year period to March 2020, before the pandemic started. Since the end of lockdown restrictions, these trends have persisted and we expect many customers have adapted their banking habits permanently.
- Barclays say that 79 per cent of Barclays Stanhope customers are also choosing other ways to bank with them via online, telephony or mobile app.
- Barclays have identified that only 22 regular customers use this branch exclusively for their banking and do not interact with us in other ways. Barclays will contact all out vulnerable and elderly customers who do not visit the branch on a regular basis to discuss how they can continue to bank with us following the closure.
- Barclays say there are alternatives for customers not wishing to travel to transact locally including free to use ATMS, Post Offices, and the ability to access cashback available for customers.
- Barclays attached Post Office leaflet which is helpful in explaining everyday transactions all customers can undertake at any Post Office - including business customers. (I’ve posted this below)
- Barclays confirmed there will be no redundancies following the closure and staff will be redeployed locally.
Regarding a physical presence, Barclays have said that they intend to have a “physical touch point” in Stanhope and are currently finalising a location for it which will have the same opening times as the current branch. They said “As we discussed at our meeting recently although the branch is closing, we will still have an active presence in the community via new and alternative physical touchpoint. We plan to provide additional face-to-face access for banking services via one of our community locations – from the point of closure. Customers will be able to meet colleagues face-to-face for banking support as they would in a branch and without the need to travel.”
I am very disappointed with Barclays decision and I await to see what their plans for a “physical touchpoint” are. They have informed me that they’re contacting individual customers and will personally call on the 22 customers who only use over the counter services and show them how to use the Post Office facility.
Please do contact them in branch directly and via letter/email express your view and if you need further assistance on contacting them, do not hesitate to contact me via www.RichardHolden.org.uk/contact