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Barclays wrote to Great Shelford Parish Council (GSPC) on 17 January to announce that it was closing its branch in the village. The reasons given have nothing to do with the recent theft of the ATM from the branch, but focused on declining footfall. GSPC believes that the closure will have a significant negative impact on the communities in Great Shelford and the surrounding villages:
- This is the last bank branch in the South of the county. The nearest alternative branch is not easily accessible by public transport and necessitates a drive through congested traffic, with severe parking problems around the branch.
- The local villages have a significant elderly population, for most of whom Internet or telephone banking is not an option.
- A number of local businesses are cash-based and rely on the branch being there to bank their takings.
- Without the branch being in Great Shelford, there is a danger of a domino effect, with shoppers not visiting the village and therefore further damaging other businesses.
Barclays, along with other members of the British Banking Association (BBA), has a duty of care under the ‘Access to Banking Standard’, which came into effect in May 2017. This set out best practice guidelines for banks considering closing branches or reducing opening hours by more than 30%. The Protocol required that a bank must carry out a full assessment of the impact of the closure or significant opening hours reduction on the community, after consulting with affected customers and their representatives (such as local councils and residents’ groups). The bank is then required to publish this assessment, detailing the reasons for the closure and the outcome of the community consultation, before the closure or hours reduction takes effect. It seems that has not happened in the case of the Great Shelford branch.
What is GSPC doing in response to the closure?
- GSPC’s views on the issue were made verbally in a call to Irene East, Barclays Head of Corporate Relations Eastern on 18 January. There was a further call with Terry Staff, Community Banking Director for Cambridgeshire on 21 Jan. Mr Staff made it very clear that Barclays would not reverse the decision, nor would they consider mitigation such as mobile banking or leasing smaller premises. Obviously, GSPC’s views will be confirmed in writing.
- We have recorded a short interview to be broadcast on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
- GSPC holds its main bank account with Barclays. We have made it clear that we will close the account unless the decision is reversed.
- We have organised a public meeting in the Memorial Hall 7:30pm on Tuesday 5 Feb to allow residents to make their views known. Barclays were invited to the meeting, but have declined to attend.
- A petition asking Barclays to reconsider is being circulated.
- We are asking Barclays customers to complain in writing and also to give consideration to moving their accounts.
- We will be lobbying other local parish councils, District and County councillors and our MP for support.
- Forwarding this to friends and neighbours.
- Signing the petition (copies in the Library and Memorial Hall).
- If you are a Barclays customer, write to them to complain. Consider moving the account and tell them what you are doing. If you do contact Barclays, please let Mike Nettleton know.