Brightlingsea: Barclays becomes third bank to announce town branch closure plans
Civic and business leaders have expressed disappointment as a third bank branch in Brightlingsea is set to shut within just over a year.
Barclays has announced its branch in the High Street will close on Friday September 12.
The news follows a decision by Natwest to close its town branch on July 25, and Nationwide which shut its building society in Brightlingsea last summer.
It means from September there will only be one bank within Brightlingsea, the LLoyds branch in Victoria Place, unless a new operator moves into the town.
A Barclays spokesman said: “The way customers undertake their banking is changing as people increasingly use online, telephone and mobile devices. In response to this change in customer behaviour we must evolve our business to meet their needs.
“At the Brightlingsea branch, customer usage has been declining over a number of years and more than two-thirds of customers now regularly use our alternative branches, which is why we have taken the difficult decision to close the branch.
“Our colleagues at Barclays Brightlingsea have been consulted about the change and will be given the opportunity to work at a nearby branch.
“In addition to the option of online, telephone and mobile banking, customers can undertake everyday transactions at the nearby Post Office at the Spar.
“We hope the range of alternatives including digital banking, nearby branches and Post Office access will help to ease the transition for our customers as we move out of Brightlingsea.”Des Rowson, chairman of the Brightlingsea Business Association, said: “I think it is short-sightedness.
“This move from Barclays could crucify us. I dread to think what they will do to the town.
“People from outlying areas travel into Brightlingsea to use the bank because we have great parking, and while they are here they visit other shops and businesses. So the banks are a great boost to the town’s economy, not just a service for residents.”
Vivien Chapman, Brightlingsea mayor, added: “This is a great shame. Here in Brightlingsea it is three miles to the main road and a captive audience, while the banks also bring in people from villages all around, who hopefully also use our shops.
“The banks tell us they don’t have enough customers to warrant staying open but with the population we have, the number of businesses and visitors, I find that very surprising. Brightlingsea is a growing town as well.
“We are all very disappointed, and I would ask Barclays and Natwest to reconsider.”
A spokesman for Lloyds Bank, the last remaining bank in Brightlingsea, said: “In 2011 Lloyds Banking Group committed to keeping the same number of branches in its network for three years. We also pledged not to close a branch if it is the last one in a community.
“These commitments run until the end of 2014, and as yet no decisions have been made about our branch network after this point.
“Branches are at the centre of how we serve customers and will continue to play a vital part in our future plans.”