September 2 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Campaigners fighting to prevent a market town from losing its only bank have urged people to write to its chief executive and demand it stays open.
There has been a bank at the site of the current Barclays branch in Needham Market’s High Street for 270 years.
But now a decision has been taken for it to close in September, despite customers protesting.
District councillors Mike Norris and Wendy Marchant organised a meeting with bank bosses to discuss their concerns.
Mrs Marchant said: “We still want Barclays to stay. Looking at statistics from Suffolk County Council, Needham Market has the second highest elderly population in mid Suffolk and it’s not easy for these customers to get to Stowmarket, with a lot of them not used to going online for their banking.
“Places the size of Eye, which has half the population of Needham, have a Barclays bank, so why can’t Needham Market? There will be a population increase with new housing sites and everybody thinking of buying a house looks for facilities. Having a bank is an asset.
“We are trying to encourage people concerned to write to the chief executive.”
Barclays said it would bring in one of its teams of online banking experts to help customers make the transition to the internet.
Terry Staff, community banking leader for Suffolk and Norfolk, said: “At the meeting on Friday with local councillors we were able to fully explain the reasons for the decision to close our Needham Market branch. We also outlined our support for any customers who may find it more difficult to visit our Stowmarket branch.
“We will be running a Digital Eagle week at our Needham Market branch to support customers to understand how they can use technology to undertake their banking.”
Barclays has said that, despite the branch closing, no members of staff would lose their jobs. Instead, they would be transferred to other branches.
It insisted that the “difficult decision” had been made because around two thirds of the town’s bank customers regularly use other branches.
Mrs Marchant said there were 2,500 homes in the town – a number which was set to increase.
The “digital eagle” sessions will run in the week starting August 11.