Bank closure 'another nail in coffin of town'

Only 75 people rely on Market Square branch exclusively, says Barclays

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 5:39 pm
Mayor of Buckingham, Geraldine Collins, said she was sad to see another bank close its doors in the town

Barclays is planning to pull out of Buckingham on June 25.

The bank says only 75 regular customers rely on the Market Square branch exclusively for their banking.

Mayor of Buckingham Geraldine Collins told the Advertiser: "I am very sad to see yet another bank close their branch in Buckingham.

Buckingham Traders Association spokesman Mary Simons, of Finca El Monte

"I know a lot of people who rely on it and do not do internet banking. They also do not have the facilities to do so.

"Buckingham will be relying on the one remaining bank and the Post Office."

The town has already lost Santander, Halifax, HSBC and NatWest in recent years. Only Lloyds in Market Square now remains.

The subject will be discussed at the next meeting of Buckingham Town Council, held via Zoom on April 19. It can be watched live on the Buckingham Town Council YouTube channel.

Buckingham Traders Association spokesman Mary Simons, of Finca el Monte, in Well Street, said traders still need a counter service for banking cash and getting change.

She said the impact of the closure would be two-fold - the loss of direct banking facilities, and the consequent loss reduction of footfall in the town.

"With each step along the line, we're losing that footfall," said Sarah. "It's reduced the need for people to come into town. It's just another nail in the coffin, another reason why people don't come in."

On the Buckingham What Matters to You Facebook page, one person wrote: "This is a national phenomenon. Basically, reduce weekday working hours, shut down for weekends, then complain no one uses the bank and totally close the bank saying everything is possible online."

Another person said: "People use banks for much more than personal/business accounts. Not everyone has the technology to arrange insurance, mortgages etc and need the assistance from bank staff. What about those bereaved, to pop into a branch that they are familiar with, to discuss and sort an estate, they really don't want to have to travel to another town to do it."

Another said: "Further erosion of amenities in our town centre. Coupled with out of town shopping. We need to see business and independent shops being encouraged in Buckingham."

And another person added:: "When they closed Brackley branch they said use Buckingham. They are now saying use Bicester or Towcester."

A letter from Barclays seen by the Advertiser says: "The decision to close a branch is never an easy one, however, the way we bank today is unrecognisable from 50 years ago when almost every banking transaction took place in a branch.

"Now, that number is only 10 per cent, and we need to make sure that we are providing our services in ways that best reflect customers’ needs today and into the future.

"As part of these changes, the role of the physical branch itself is evolving, from somewhere where large numbers of transactions happen behind a counter to a space where specialist financial conversations can take place comfortably.

"This ongoing change in behaviour means we are seeing a sustained fall in customer transactions across our network and this is reflected at the Buckingham branch where there has been a 12 per cent reduction in counter transactions in the two years to March 2020.

"In addition, we can identify that 89 per cent of our customers at the branch are using alternative ways in which to undertake their banking, including via the telephone, online and mobile app.

"We have also identified that in total 75 regular customers use this branch exclusively for their banking and do not interact with us in other ways.

"Despite this change, we are confident that access to banking remains sufficient in the local community. The closest branches are 102 Watling Street, Towcester and 36 Market Square, Bicester.

"There are five free-to-use ATMs within one kilometre, the nearest at the Post Office at the Old Gingerbread House, Market Hill, while everyday transactions can also be completed at any Post Office. There are two further Post Offices within four miles.

"We appreciate that not all of our customers will adopt change at the same pace, and we would like to underline our commitment to supporting our vulnerable customers through this change.

"We will be making personal contact with all regular branch users to discuss their options and guide them through alternative ways to bank. This could include, for those vulnerable customers who are unable to travel to a nearby branch, the option to use our free cash delivery service.

"As customers are banking in different ways that suit their lives today, we are continuing to invest in our services to meet these needs. This means more training for our colleagues so they can offer the skilled financial expertise customers require and more investment in our technology and digital tools to allow Barclays customers to have access at the click of a button or in the palm of their hand.

"I would like to reassure you that we do not intend to make anyone redundant as a result of this closure, and colleagues will be redeployed to support customers in other ways.

"As part of this closure announcement we will follow the Access to Banking Standard. This means all of our local customers will be informed of our decision at least 12 weeks before the closure via letter. We will also make available our Reasons for Closure document."