COMMUNITY leaders have expressed disappointment after failing to secure any concessions from Barclays ahead of its closure of its Neston branch.
Ellesmere Port and Neston MP, Justin Madders and Little Neston and Burton councillor, Louise Gittins said they were not optimistic following a meeting with representatives of the bank.
They say that when Barclays closes its doors in October, Neston will be left without any banking facilities, something the local politicians claim could harm local businesses, as well as isolating older people who are unable to use online banking.
The cash point will also be removed when the branch closes, despite concern being expressed by local residents.
Councillor Gittins said: “While the representatives from Barclays appreciated the difficulties that their existing customers could face in getting to the next-nearest facility in Heswall, their only solution was using Internet banking or the Post Office. We responded that not everyone is able to access internet banking and that while the Post Office provides an excellent service, it does not offer a full banking service and already has very large queues at peak times.
“Barclays told us that there are 188 customers who only bank there in person and I am told that they are being contacted to arrange a face to face chat about the opportunity for 'tea and training' on how to use online banking.
“However, after the meeting Justin and I had a walk around the market, where we met a Barclays customer who had not yet contacted. If you are a customer, I would advise you to contact the branch if you would like to access their online banking training.”
Justin Madders MP added: “During the meeting, we suggested that Barclays explore the idea of creating some sort of banking hub, where banks worked together to provide a joint facility, as I understand that this has been achieved elsewhere. The Barclays team did agree to look into this; however, I'm not optimistic that progress will be made.
“It was clear throughout the meeting that Barclays were only paying lip service to our suggestions and were not going to change their decision. Most frustratingly they wouldn’t even confirm if the branch was losing money which rather suggested to me that their primary motivation was increasing profit rather than providing a service to customers. “Neston has been badly let down by the big banks and local people are right to be disappointed.”
Last month, Mr Madders called for action after Barclays confirmed it was to close the branch on Neston High Street.
Then, a Barclays spokesperson said: "The way customers undertake their banking is changing as people increasingly use online, telephone and mobile devices. At Barclays Neston branch, customer usage has continued to decline in recent years, which is why we have taken the difficult decision to close it.
“We hope that the availability of our other Barclays branch at 26 Pensby Rd, Heswall, and access to services at the local Post Office located at 7 High Street, Neston, along with our range of digital channels will help to ease the transition for our customers.”
All Barclays customers in the area will receive a letter, posters will be displayed in the branch and staff will be on hand to assist customers with any concerns they may have.
The closing date is Friday, October 20 and Barclays say there will be no compulsory staff redundancies.
See full story in the Chester Leader