Woodbridge mayor Eamonn O’Nolan laments loss of Church Street Barclays as plans lodged to clear building
The mayor of Woodbridge has said the imminent loss of another bank is a major blow for the town – as plans were lodged to clear the prominent building ahead of its closure.
Earlier this year, it was announced that Barclays, in Church Street, would shut on December 3, after a large drop in physical visits.
The company revealed that fewer than 10 people used the bank regularly – and 90 per cent of customers used other forms of banking.
Plans have been lodged to East Suffolk Council to conduct work on both the inside and outside of the grade-II* listed building.
Meanwhile, the town’s mayor Eamonn O’Nolan hoped a banking network could be set up for people in the area.
Ahead of the closure of the branch, Barclays is seeking approval for alterations to the building, which would include the letter box being sealed, the removal of signs, night safes to be moved, ATMs to be stripped, and the word ‘bank’ on the building’s stonework to be scrubbed.
In addition, counters will be removed, alongside Barclays fittings, furniture and glazed partitions on the ground floor.
In response to the wave of closures, Woodbridge Town Council wrote to cash machine network LINK asking for it to set up a banking hub.
At its full meeting in September, mayor Eamonn O’Nolan described it as a ‘no-brainer’ that could provide a useful service to the community.
In an interview with Suffolk News, Cllr O’Nolan said banks are an essential service, and the outlets in the town serve not only Woodbridge but many more people living in the surrounding villages – and that current provisions were ‘just not enough’.
He described banks closing as an ‘anti-social move’ – and poor transport connections to Ipswich meant it could be difficult for residents to access banking services should the last of them close.
The only bank that will be left in the town after Barclays closes will be Lloyds alongside its post offices.
Cllr O’Nolan added: “For more tech-savvy people, the closure of banks may not affect them as they do everything online, but there’s still a strong demand for people to do things the old-fashioned way.
“These people should still be important to the banks and it’s those people these closures affect.
“The town council has written to LINK, and I think this is something Woodbridge needs. Although we question why LINK itself didn’t consider setting up a hub when the first of the banks started closing.
“Why should it fall on us to decide this?”
A spokesman for the LINK network said it had been in contact with the council over the plans for a banking hub.
They believed that, due to Woodbridge still having a Lloyds branch in the town, it would be ineligible for a banking hub.
According to LINK, if there is a branch offering full-service provision, it considers that to be sufficient and no further action will be taken.
However, it is possible it would be eligible should all banking services in the town cease, the spokesman added.