Not enough business for village’s bank

A bank in an affluent Norfolk village full of independent traders is set to close due to a lack of business.

Barclays plans to shut the doors of its Burnham Market branch in March because it claims too few customers use it.

But traders and parish councillors have urged the company to change its mind saying the area's many traders, which range from shopkeepers and publicans to builders and accountants, rely on having access to the bank for their day-to-day business.

Rosalie Monbiot, a parish councillor who is spearheading the campaign to save the branch, said: 'Our argument is that, while the village only has 800 permanent residents, we have more than 52 commercial outlets. The traders are very dependent on it to do their transactions.

'It's a terrible decision for the village. Very, very concerning commercially.'

The branch will close on March 18 leaving Burnham Market with just a NatWest which is reducing its hours to just three mornings a week from February 21.

Letters sent to all Barclays customers in the village say they can use the bank in Wells instead, or do non-trade transactions at the local post office.

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Max Graham-Wood, chairman of the Burnham Market traders' association, said that was not a practical solution and would probably lead to many people switching banks.

'There's going to be a lot of elderly people who bank with Barclays,' he said. 'And there's a lot of traders who will have to go somewhere else or close their accounts.

'I potter round the village and there's always someone going in and out of it. As chairman of the traders' association I would urge them to reconsider.'

A Barclay's spokesman said the decision to close the bank had not been taken lightly and staff would work hard to minimise the impact on customers.

She added: 'There are regular changes as we work to ensure we have branches where customers need and use them. This often means opening or refurbishing a branch but occasionally the decision is made to close a branch for example where there is low customer use.'

The bank is also looking into whether it can re-locate the village's one cash machine when the branch closes.

Mrs Monbiot said the loss of the ATM would be a major blow. 'During the summer we have a huge influx of visitors into the village,' she said. 'People use the cash point at all hours of the day and night.'

The parish councillor said she would be arranging a meeting in the village in the New Year and expected a petition would be started.