Barclays to decide future of rural branches in Suffolk and Essex

Six banks in Suffolk and north Essex will find out their futures later this year

Six banks in Suffolk and north Essex will find out their futures later this year - Credit: Google Maps/Gregg Brown

Barclays is to review the future of a number of rural bank branches in Suffolk and Essex in October following a two-year pilot.

The bank announced in October 2019 that it was pledging not to close branches at Southwold, Framlingham, Leiston, Mildenhall, West Mersea and Manningtree until October 2021. 

It said it hoped that by maintaining last-in-town or remote branches it would help increase demand and keep branches viable for the future

A spokesman for Barclays confirmed this week that the company would be reviewing the results of the initiative in October. 

Mildenhall has already lost one bank this year after Lloyds announced that it would be leaving the town

A number of east Suffolk towns have lost their final banks in recent years including Aldeburgh and Halesworth. 

Leiston Town Council chairman John Last said that it was essential for residents in the area that the facilities stay. 

"It's a necessity as it's the last one in the town," said Mr Last. 

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"It's essential for people that don't bank online and for those who can't travel.

"The town badly needs to retain that service." 

Hannah Wright, business development manager in Southwold, said that should Barclays pull out it would remove a key part of the high street. 

"A bank is part of the high street," said Mrs Wright. 

"By removing that you are taking an element of the high street." 

Mrs Wright said businesses in the town could potentially lose out on trade from residents who make the journey into the centre just to visit the bank. 

She said any loss of the bank would also cause problems for older people in the town. 

"The majority of them still like to deal face-to-face," said Mrs Wright. 

"Losing that it will have an impact on them."

Jenny Stockman, member of the Framlingham Business Association and chairman of East Suffolk Business Connected, said: "The cost of staffing and maintaining small local branches for any bank can’t be underestimated, but we do hope that this is weighed up very carefully against the apparently softer community benefits that personal face-to-face service can deliver.

"Access to cash, ability to deposit a day’s takings, being able to talk through financial matters face-to-face, signing documents and just the ability to walk in and sort things is so valuable when the alternative, from personal experience, can be sitting for three hours on hold for phone help."