‘It’s an absolute disgrace’ - Another Suffolk town to become devoid of bank branches

There is anger in Eye at the closure of Barclays Bank, the town's last remaining bank. Left to right

There is anger in Eye at the closure of Barclays Bank, the town's last remaining bank. Left to right, Guy McGregor and Bruce Salter. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The closure of a Suffolk town’s last bank branch is feared to be the “nail in the coffin” for its economic vitality.

Barclays Bank confirmed it would be closing its Eye branch in September – the latest in a line of closures which have seen many Suffolk towns left without a branch to visit in person.

The bank said changing customer habits and declining usage had led its decision but has faced criticism from residents and community leaders.

Joyce Cooper, who lives in nearby Horham, said the closure was the “nail in the coffin” for Eye and suggested business in the town would become “unviable”.

Guy McGregor, who represents the town at Suffolk County Council, said the closure was an “absolute disgrace”. Mr McGregor had criticised the bank’s decision in to open on Tuesdays or Saturdays and said it was hardly surprising fewer people used the bank when it was closed so often.

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“The closure of a bank branch, whether its in Eye or any town, has a detrimental effect on its economic vitality,” he added.

“Before the last branch closes in a town, there ought to be a proper public consultation, because banks hold a privileged position on society and ought to do more to fulfil their social obligation.”

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Eye Town Council will be discussing the closure at tonight’s meeting. Clerk Wendy Alcock said: “We share the concerns that it would have a detrimental effect on Eye and the surrounding area.”

Mrs Cooper said Barclays’ closure was not the only problem Eye faced, claiming it had been “neglected by authorities” particularly about parking matters. She said traffic control was “nonexistent” and the town was “completely clogged” with cars, many of them belonging to residents, leaving nowhere for shoppers to go. Mrs Cooper called for “immediate action” to help business owners and “revitalise this town”.

Mr McGregor disagreed, saying Eye was well served by councils.

Kathryn Kitson, for Barclays Suffolk and Norfolk said customers were increasingly using online, telephone and mobile devices, whereas branch usage had continued to decline. She said customers could use branches in Diss, Harleston and Framlingham and at the Post Office in McColls in Eye.

The bank will be discussing with customers other ways to bank. Staff will be offered jobs at nearby branches.

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