Clare Forrest of Gatley Village Partnership and Councillor Keith Holloway met with Barclays Bank representatives David Bruce, Corporate Relations and Jason Clarke, Community Leader on Monday to discuss the closure of the Barclays branch in Gatley village.
This update from Clare outlines what was discussed.
The closure was discussed. Barclays made it plain that, while they regretted the closure and had used a lengthy process to reach the decision, it would not be reversed. They provided three business reasons for the closure:
- Footfall has reduced by 32% over 3 years.
- 9/10 of Gatley people bank elsewhere.
- The lease on the building is due for renewal and it was not sensible to take this up again.
We pointed out the unprecedented level of anger and concern this had generated in Gatley and that this had already been taken up by local press and media. We also expressed our concern at the way in which the decision had been announced, ignoring local councillors and failing to communicate by letter with all of their customers. Barclays accepted our points.
We explored possible options with Barclays:
Post Office Banking: We were told that the Post Office had agreed to supply basic withdrawals and cheque deposits, both personal and business cheques (this latter is apparently unusual).
The Post Office would not be able to accept cash transactions, though this was ‘under review’. When pressed, Barclays admitted they had no real idea what this meant because this would be a national decision by Post Office Ltd and Barclays.
We urged them to pursue the facility for cash deposits on behalf of the Traders in the village which were primarily cash businesses. We also pointed out there would be no secure night safe point for Traders. Barclays promised to consider this.
We pointed out that the Post Office, now in the Newsagents, was a very basic counter with no privacy for those making withdrawals or deposits. We asked them to consider this and suggested they might look at recycling the ‘furniture’ from the bank when it closed. We also suggested they should look at making a grant to improve the facilities. Barclays promised to consider this.
We raised the idea of a ‘mobile bank’ but were told this is not something that Barclays do.
We discussed the ‘Tea and Teach’ sessions with their ‘Digital Eagles’ and suggested that the marketing of these had been very poor, consisting of a few posters. We pointed out that it was GVP which had advised the manager at Barclays of suitable venues –and expressed our surprise that he had not been able to do this until we intervened. They, in turn, were very surprised that no one had attended the first two sessions—apparently these are very well-attended elsewhere. We suggested they should write to all their customers advising them of the sessions as well as consider leafleting elsewhere. Barclays promised to investigate what had been done to market the sessions and consider how to improve take-up.