Sandy and Shefford to lose last banks as Barclays announces closures

Sandy's branch of Barclays. Picture: Google Street View

Sandy's branch of Barclays. Picture: Google Street View - Credit: Archant

Sandy and Shefford are to left without banks after Barclays announced that it would close its branches in both towns.

Shefford's branch of Barclays. Picture: Google Street View

Shefford's branch of Barclays. Picture: Google Street View - Credit: Archant

The banks in Shefford’s Northbridge Street and Sandy’s High Street will close in February, Barclays has confirmed – meaning customers wishing to visit a physical branch will have to travel to Biggleswade, Hitchin or beyond.

Barclays community banking director Donna Hagan said: “The way customers undertake their banking is changing as people increasingly use online, telephone and mobile devices.

“At Barclays’ Shefford and Sandy branches, customer usage has fallen and many of our customers now regularly use alternative branches – which is why we have taken the difficult decision to close.

“We hope that the availability of our nearest Barclays branch in Biggleswade, access to services at the local Post Office in both Shefford and Sandy, as well as our range of digital channels, will help to ease the transition for our customers.”

Public response to the news has been mostly negative, with concerns raised about how the branch closures might affect the older generation.

There has also been bemusement at the statement that not enough people use the brick-and-mortar branches, with many agreeing that there is a long line waiting throughout a typical day.

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Posting in the Our Shefford Facebook group, one resident wrote: “For the older generation who don’t have online banking, who don’t or can no longer drive, I feel this is a real terrible thing to let happen.”

Another added: “With the town growing at the rate it is, this is ridiculous. A lot of the older members of our community don’t understand online banking. We need more banks, not less.”

In Sandy, the news has prompted speculation as to what might take up the prime bank site in the town centre.

A Barclays spokesman said the group would be “proactively engaging with local businesses and the wider community” to discuss alternative banking arrangements ahead of the closure in February 2018.

Barclays has also pledged to hold ‘tea and teach’ sessions at the Shefford and Sandy branches for customers interested in finding out more about digital banking.

The announced closures come after both Barclays and Lloyds decamped from Baldock this year – leaving that town without a bank branch despite plans for a massive increase in housing.