Market town bank to close despite council’s attempt to save it



Councillors in a Norfolk market town have met with bank representatives in an effort to mitigate the effects of a planned closure.

The mayor of Swaffham, along with town councillors and the town clerk, met with senior representatives of Barclays Bank on Wednesday to discuss the closure of the town's branch on July 27.

The purpose of the meeting was to explore ways that they can limit the impact the closure has on the community and to see if there is any possibility of a compromise.

Among the issues discussed was the possibility of reducing the opening hours to two or three days per week, as an alternative to a full closure but this was not an option Barclays would consider.

They also rejected the suggestion that a mobile banking solution could be implemented, similar to that provided by Natwest.

With the Post Office being a potential alternative for banking, councillors voiced concerns that this could lead to long queues at peak times and cause difficulties for vulnerable customers. Barclays said these customers are of great importance and steps were under way to deal with any individual problems on a one to one basis.

Katheryn Kitson, community banking director for Norfolk and Suffolk, stated that she wants to leave the community in the best place possible, but confirmed that the bank will close at the end of July and this will include the removal of the cash machine.

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Mayor Colin Houghton said after the meeting: 'We welcomed the opportunity to meet representatives from Barclays Bank, and a number of councillors attended, raising issues and concerns regarding the need for closure and possible alternative ways of access.

'Representatives explained the rationale behind the decision for closure which was challenged vigorously. Barclays were robust in their defence of the decision they had made. They were extensively asked a number of questions, and at the end of the day confirmed that their decision is unchanged.

'They assured councillors that they would continue their efforts to move customers to electronic banking methods, and would provide training if necessary. This is not the outcome that the town council wanted and is disappointing news for Barclays customers living in Swaffham.'