Express & Star

MP reveals biggest fear after Barclays closure announced

An MP said he fears Lichfield could be left without any banks after Barclays announced plans to close its city branch.

The Barclays on Breadmarket Street in Lichfield is closing down in September

The Barclays on Breadmarket Street is set to shut down in September after the bank said counter transactions were down nearly 70 per cent in the last year.

Lichfield MP Sir Michael Fabricant has warned the "growing trend" of branch closures across the country could see other banks disappear from the city's streets.

He has urged Barclays customers to switch their accounts to other banks that still have branches open in the city in a bid to keep them open.

Barclays is closing 132 branches this year, while HSBC is due to close 114, NatWest is closing 106 branches and Lloyds has announced 144 closures.

Sir Michael said the closure was disappointing news for residents and staff. "While I appreciate that retail banking is very different from twenty five years ago with most transactions being conducted electronically, the closure of the branch will inconvenience many of its customers," he said.

"My fear is that this growing trend of closing branches nationally is not confined to Barclays and that other branches might close too.

"The old adage: ‘use it or lose it’ applies to banks as well as it does to any other business. Frankly, I would consider closing my Barclays account if I had one and move to one of the other banks still open in Lichfield such as NatWest, HSBC, or Lloyds to help keep them open.

"I shall of course write to the head of Barclays asking them to reconsider their decision, but I know that in other areas they do not change their minds so I am not hopeful. Sadly, as an MP, I cannot instruct them to keep the branch open."

Barclays confirmed the branch will close on September 15, saying counter transactions were down 68 per cent and that 89 per cent of customers were using online and telephone banking.

David Bruce, Barclays' head of corporate relations in the central region, said access to banking in the community "remains sufficient", with customers able to use the Post Office on Bakers Lane and ATMs at other banks.

He said: "We appreciate that not all of our customers will adopt change at the same pace, and we would like to underline our commitment to supporting our vulnerable customers through this change."We have identified that in total, less than 10 regular customers use this branch exclusively for their banking and do not interact with us in other ways.

"We will be making personal contact with our regular and vulnerable branch users to discuss their options and guide them through alternative ways to bank."

Other closures announced by Barclays include the Wombourne branch, which is due to go on July 12. The Rowley Regis branch closed down in April.