Town left with no banks as more closures announced

Barclays Bank is closing its branch in North Walsham. Pictures: Google Street Maps

Barclays Bank is closing its branch in North Walsham. Pictures: Google Street Maps - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk town will be left without any national bank branches following the latest closures announcement.

Barclays Bank in Wells. Picture: Google

Barclays Bank in Wells. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

Barclays Bank said its branch in High Street, Wells will close on February 1 next year, and its branch in Market Place, North Walsham on January 25. Wells will be left without any bank branches.

The news has been criticised by councillors in the towns.

Wells mayor and council chairman Mike Gates said: 'We cannot afford to lose these facilities; it's the only bank in town.

'They're saying there are other branches nearby, but they are 10 miles away. It's not good. It's another example of rural communities losing services. I suppose we could complain and shout about it, but I don't think it would do any good.'

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North Walsham resident Elaine Addison, who is also a town councillor, said: 'From a personal perspective I think it's a shame. A lot of elderly people use that branch and it's another blow to our town centres.'

There will be no redundancies with staff offered positions at other branches nearby.

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A Barclays spokesman said that the number of customers using the North Walsham branch had fallen 17pc in two years, and that only 231 regular customers used the branch exclusively for their banking.

Meanwhile, the number of customers using the Wells branch has fallen 27pc in two years with only 118 regular customers using the branch exclusively for their banking.

Chris Channell, deputy community banking director for Barclays Norfolk and Suffolk, said: 'The way customers undertake their banking is changing as people increasingly use online, telephone and mobile devices.

'At the branch in North Walsham more than 74pc of the customers are already using online, mobile or telephone banking, and the figure in Wells-next-the-Sea is more than 69pc.'

All customers will receive a letter explaining the decision, and posters will be displayed in branches,

Colleagues will also be on hand to help customers with any concerns they may have. And 'tea and teach' sessions will be held at the branches for customers wishing to explore alternatives to branch banking.

The number of bank branches has been decreasing across the region.

Last month, Lloyds Bank closed its branch in Watton, saying 70pc of customers used online and telephone banking.

Communities hit by bank closures include Halesworth, Reepham, Loddon and Bungay where there are no high street branches.

RBS closed its branch in New Conduit Street, King's Lynn and Lloyds Bank and Halifax have closed six branches across Norfolk and Suffolk.

A large concern in Norfolk is that with branches closing the elderly population will be left without banking services.

Branches have been replaced in some rural areas by mobile banks.

In Diss, NatWest closed on May 30 of this year. Since then there has been a mobile bank visiting the town for two hours twice a week.

Reepham lost its last branch, HSBC, in October 2015 and Loddon was left without a bank last year.

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