Carnforth councillors urge Barclays to reconsider plans to close town branch

Carnforth town councillors are urging Barclays to u-turn on their decision to close the town’s branch of the bank.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Thursday, 21st July 2022, 10:22 am
Updated Thursday, 21st July 2022, 10:34 am

The Market Street bank is due to close on October 13, leaving Carnforth with no face-to-face banking facilities.

And councillors have warned that the decision will have a detrimental effect on many people who do not have access to internet banking, as well as being a ‘body blow’ to a town still recovering from the pandemic.

Coun Jim Grisenthwaite, speaking on behalf of the town council, said: “The announcement that the Carnforth branch of Barclays Bank will close on October 13 will leave the town without any face-to-face banking facilities and another empty retail premises on Market Street.

Barclays in Carnforth is due to close in October. Photo: Google Street View

“Carnforth, like many other towns of similar size, has been slowly recovering from the effects of the Covid pandemic.

"This news therefore comes as a body blow not only to local businesses but also to the many elderly and disadvantaged residents, from Carnforth and from surrounding villages, who do not have access to internet banking.

“The news will also increase the pressure on the town’s post office which already experiences queuing at certain times of the day. For the moment, at least, the nearest Barclays Bank is in Lancaster, nearly 10 miles away.

“While we welcome the news that Barclays will endeavour to maintain a presence in the community by using a banking van that will call in the town at certain times, this is surely just another example of managed decline.

"In the fullness of time this too will be withdrawn on the grounds that levels of use do not justify the expense.

“The relentless march of the corporate banking organisations towards online services at the expense of local branches should not be regarded as the inevitable advance of technology over out-dated forms of business practice.

"The ordinary person may prefer to do business with another human being rather than wait endlessly in a telephone queue or deal online with a faceless robot.

"Perhaps as corporate banking profits generally continue to increase year-on-year, their boards of directors may one day realise that however they dress up their products, there is no satisfactory replacement for a friendly professional presence on the street corner.

“For that reason, Carnforth Town Council is opposed to the closure of Barclays Carnforth branch and urges the bank to reconsider its decision because of the detrimental effect this will have on the residents, businesses and economy of our town.”

Barclays said just 41 regular customers use the Carnforth branch exclusively for banking and do not interact with the bank in other ways.

A spokesman said: “The decision to close a branch is never an easy one. However, customers are increasingly using alternatives to branches to do their banking. As a result, we are seeing a sustained fall in branch visits across the UK.

“This is reflected at Carnforth branch there has been an 34 per cent reduction in counter transactions in the two years to March 2020. In addition 85 per cent of our customers at the branch are also using different ways to bank.

“We will work with our customers and provide alternative options to ensure they can continue to manage their money and receive financial expertise when required.”

The spokesman added that customers have a range of options to complete their banking including the Barclays app, telephone banking, online banking and video banking.

Everyday transactions can also be completed at any Post Office, with the closest located at 21 Market Street, Carnforth.

The nearest free-to-use ATM is at the Co-op in Market Street.

They said: “The role of the physical branch is evolving, with fewer than 10 per cent of transactions now taking place inside a branch

“We are committed to adhering to the UK Access to Banking Standard. All of our customers will receive a letter, our decision to close document and posters will be displayed in branch, and colleagues will be on hand to assist customers with any concerns they may have

“We will be proactively engaging with local businesses and the wider community to discuss the alternative ways customers will be able to undertake their banking locally

“We will be offering virtual ‘tea and teach’ sessions for customers wishing to explore digital banking and other alternatives to branch based banking.

“We will still have an active presence in the community via new and alternative touch points.

“Through these alternative touch points, including the Barclays Van, Barclays colleagues will be available to offer general advice and help for customers with basic banking, such as transfers between accounts, change of address, opening of savings and ISA accounts, setting up mobile banking and amending direct debits and standing orders.”