North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald presses Barclays directors over closure of Baldock’s last bank

Barclays Bank in Baldock. Picture: JP Asher

Barclays Bank in Baldock. Picture: JP Asher - Credit: Archant

North East Hertfordshire MP Sir Oliver Heald has met Barclays directors to press the case for keeping Baldock’s last bank open – but he doesn’t think he’s been successful.

Sir Oliver Heald MP. Picture: Harry Hubbard

Sir Oliver Heald MP. Picture: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Sir Oliver met Barclays community banking directors Donna Hagan and Terry Staff at Westminster to discuss the future of Barclays’ branches in Baldock and Buntingford, the latter of which is set to have its hours reduced.

Barclays had been set to be the one remaining Baldock bank, after Lloyds confirmed in April that it would shut its High Street branch on August 7.

But last month Barclays announced that its site in Whitehorse Street would close on October 6 – a decision that Sir Oliver and others including Councillor Jim McNally have called “short-sighted” in view of the huge amount of new housing earmarked for the town.

During the meeting, Ms Hagan said that Barclays in Baldock had experienced a big fall in transactions, from more than 95,000 in 2012 to less than 29,000 now, amid a general shift towards online and mobile banking.

She added that existing Baldock staff would be relocated to Letchworth to help maintain customer relationships, and that customers would be able to carry out everyday transactions like paying in cheques and depositing cash at the Post Office in Whitehorse Street.

Sir Oliver countered that nevertheless there was a strong desire locally to keep the town’s last bank, and that the change in business habits did not mean counter services were no longer required for serious matters.

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He said afterwards: “It was good to have a frank meeting with Barclays and I was able to put all issues raised with me by constituents.

“I did not feel that I convinced Ms Hagan to think again about Baldock, but I hope she will think over the points made, particularly about this being an expanding town.

“On Buntingford, Mr Staff was much more reassuring and was aware of Buntingford’s situation some distance from other towns and that it too is expanding.

“He explained that he was matching the hours to local use of the branch and that he would keep in contact with me. There is no plan to close the branch, he told me.

“This seemed better news, and I will continue to monitor the situation.”

Barclays has been contacted for comment.