Closure would be ‘devastating blow’ – Hywel Williams MP
Plaid Cymru MP for Arfon, Hywel Williams, has today (19 November) urged Barclays to reconsider the planned closure of its Caernarfon branch on 18 February 2022.
In a letter to Barclays CEO C. S. Venkatakrishnan, Mr Williams said that the branch has long been a “linchpin of the local high street” which provides “essential banking services to the local communities and businesses.”
The Arfon MP said that while pre-pandemic banking trends were clear, the pandemic had “underlined the importance of local services” for people who are often forced to deal with the “perennial issue of broadband access in rural areas”. He highlighted that older people would be particularly impacted by the closure.
Customers in the Caernarfon area who wish to continue to use in-branch services will be forced to change bank or to travel 9 miles to the nearest Barclays branch in Bangor, or 14 miles to Llangefni, to access basic banking services. Barclays has recognised that ninety-eight customers currently bank exclusively with the Caernarfon branch.
He urged Mr Venkatakrishnan to reconsider what would be a “devastating blow to local communities.”
Hywel Williams MP writes:
“As you are no doubt aware, the Barclays branch in Caernarfon has long been a linchpin of the local high street, providing essential banking services to the local community and businesses. I am therefore deeply concerned by the decision by your bank to close its local branch as this will increase banking exclusion, particularly for the elderly and rural communities, and undermine the local economy.
“Having read your Bank’s explanation with great interest, I accept that the way in which people bank is changing. However, I would argue that while pre-pandemic trends were clear, the ongoing pandemic has underlined the importance of local services, while the perennial issue of broadband access in rural areas continues to deny rural communities the ability to use alternative banking services. More widely this issue of connectivity not only undermines the use of cards but also more modern methods such as contactless payments, underlining the importance of cash payments and direct banking services.
“As your bank notes, there are ninety-eight customers who bank exclusively with the Caernarfon branch as well as a wider customer base including local businesses. With the closure of this branch, these customers will either be forced to change bank or to travel 9 miles to the nearest Barclays branch in Bangor, or 14 miles to Llangefni, to access basic banking services.
“I sincerely hope therefore that you will reconsider this devastating blow to local communities and ensure that the Barclays branch in Caernarfon remains open.”