More than 100 residents rally outside Barclay’s in Main Street, Leiston, to save last bank in town
More than 100 residents rallied outside the last bank in Leiston to protest its closure after a petition gained nearly 700 hundred signatures.
The Barclays bank in Main Street is set to close on Friday, May 17 due to a significant drop in footfall.
Today, members of the town’s community gathered at the branch to demand a u-turn from bank bosses following an appeal launched by Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal.
The meeting was held from 9:30am to 10:30am and was organised by by Julia Ewart, Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate, to give people a chance to voice their concerns through a microphone.
Mrs Ewart said: “Leiston Barclays Bank is the last garrison – the last remaining branch which currently serves a vast population of customers across the Suffolk Coastal area. We must fight to keep it open.
“Not everyone can, or wants, to use internet or telephone banking; and not everyone has the resources to make a long journey to a big city branch.
“Customers who use the Leiston branch will now need to travel to Ipswich or Lowestoft just to do their banking – it’s absurd.
“For too long, these closures have been allowed to fly under the radar unchallenged.
“The community here are tired of being steamrolled by institutions who take but don’t give, and we are making a stand and saying enough is enough.”
Some travelled from as far as Aldeburgh and Walpole to explain why keeping the bank open is important to them.
In a letter sent to customers, Barclays said 64 people used the bank in the last year while 84 per cent of all its users accessed banking services through other means.
30-year-old Tim Baskett, who is a wheelchair user, has been an account holder since he was 16. However, he fears he would be unable to travel from Leiston to Ipswich without assistance to do his banking.
Tim said: “The Ipswich branch is a mile from the nearest car park and to be honest, I wouldn’t want to go across Ipswich with a lot of cash on me.
“Ipswich isn’t a safe place and a lot of older, vulnerable people will be in the same position as me.
“I think it’s disgraceful they are closing the Leiston branch. There’s lots of loyal Barclays customers in Leiston and the surrounding areas and I’d like to see the branch stay open for us all.”
Saxmundham resident Erik Duckworth, 89, who doesn’t use a mobile phone, said the bank is making the process difficult after being a customer for 70 years.
He said: “For the most part, I can probably get by with using a hole-in-the-wall for most of my daily banking needs, but it’s when things go wrong or you need to do more than the basics and you need to speak to someone that it all falls down.
“It really is a tragedy they are closing the Leiston branch and I have every sympathy with those severely affected by it.
“Barclays are just making it more difficult to bank with them.”