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Community celebrates as Leiston to gain LINK banking hub after campaign over closure of Barclays, in Main Street

A Suffolk town which is set to lose its last bank will receive a new hub to provide services after months of campaigning.

LINK has confirmed residents in Leiston will retain access to banking services following the impending closure of Barclays, in Main Street.

The cash machine network reconsidered whether it would set up a banking hub after Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, met with deputy chief executive Adrian Roberts earlier this month.

Dr Coffey with residents outside Leiston's Barclays. Picture: Therese Coffey
Dr Coffey with residents outside Leiston's Barclays. Picture: Therese Coffey

Barclays has also committed to keeping the branch open until the new hub launches.

Dr Coffey said the town desperately needed a new banking hub and campaigned for it to receive one.

There were fears that Barclays’ closure could force residents to travel to Ipswich or Lowestoft – more than 20 miles away – to access a bank.

Residents at a rally to save the bank. Picture: Julia Ewart
Residents at a rally to save the bank. Picture: Julia Ewart

She said: “It's great news that the shared banking hub will allow more residents and businesses to access full banking facilities from a number of banks, as well as Barclays.

“Thank you to LINK for listening and to the people of Leiston and the wider area for supporting my successful campaign.”

The new banking hub will consist of a counter operated by Post Office employees.

Customers will be able to deposit and withdraw cash, pay bills and carry out transactions. Also included will be a private space where customers can speak with staff about more complicated issues.

A spokesman for LINK said the matter of setting up the banking hub was now in the hands of Cash Access, who will decide on a location.

The process of launching them takes about 12 months, he added.

Mr Roberts said it was good to meet with Dr Coffey in Leiston, where he learned about new developments in the area.

“This new information makes it clear that Leiston meets the necessary criteria [for a LINK hub] and I’m confident that a new banking hub will help the community to continue to thrive,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the new hub open.”

SuffolkNews reported in January that Barclays would shut on May 17.

In February, more than 100 residents gathered outside the bank to protest its closure.

Liberal Democrat MP candidate Julia Ewart also joined the call urging Barclays to consider reversing its decision to close.

Ms Ewart said she was proud of the businesses and residents for making their voices heard.

However, she felt a banking hub would a ‘light solution’ to the problem.

She said: “There is no personal touch to this, it still feels like serving the public on a personal level is an inconvenience and, this almost like offering crumbs to the peasants, from the land owners table.

“Suffolk Coastal wants and needs a banking service for its community, not a desk at the side of the Post Office, with some part time or zero-hour contract employee seconded on a minimum wage sat with a set of scripted answers.”

Lesley Hill, the chairwoman of Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council, said the council was delighted at the news.

She added: “As a Town Council we have strongly supported the need for banking services in our town."