Closure of village's last bank 'devastating'

time:2023-06-04 15:07:30 source:Al Jazeera

The upcoming closure of a village's last remaining bank has been described as "devastating" with customers facing a 40-mile (65km) round trip to use the firm's nearest branch.

Barclays in Seahouses, Northumberland, is to shut in July as part of a nationwide cost-cutting move.

Its customers will need to travel to Berwick as Barclays is also closing its Alnwick branch 16 miles away (25km).

The firm said the closures were in response to changing customer habits.

Conservative councillor Guy Renner-Thompson, who represents the Bamburgh ward on Northumberland County Council, said the Seahouses branch was an important asset for the tourist hub.

"This is devastating news for us. Barclays is the last branch in the area - there are no other banks in that whole costal strip. No others in Seahouses, Belford or even Wooler.

"It's the last rural bank in north Northumberland. It's a massive blow to the local community. If it was just Seahouses it wouldn't be so bad, but it is Alnwick as well.

"A lot of the businesses in the village get a lot of cash in through the summer. They need somewhere to put it. We also have an elderly population and many people don't use online banking.

"The bank is a vital lifeline for people in this rural area and we must make our feelings heard."

Mandy Sharman, who works at Billy Shiel's Boat Trips next door to the bank, described the announcement as "a worry".

"Local people use it all year round and there's always a queue for the cashpoint in summer. We have one other cashpoint [in the village], I'm not sure how one cashpoint alone will impact on local businesses.

"People park up, get their cash out and go on the boats, buy their chips, go to the gift shops. [The closure] might have a real impact."

Barclays said the move was due to branch visits falling.

"Where there is no longer enough demand to support a branch, we maintain an in-person presence through our Barclays Local network, in over 200 locations, based in libraries, town halls, mobile vans and our new banking pods," it said.

People in Seahouses will still be able to use its post office for services such as pension withdrawals, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

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