Welwyn bank closure ‘threatens vibrancy and vitality of village’

PUBLISHED: 16:06 30 January 2019

The Barclays bank in Welwyn will close in March 2019.

The Barclays bank in Welwyn will close in March 2019.

Archant

The closure of Welwyn’s only bank branch will hurt the village economically and isolate its residents and businesses, the parish council says.

Welwyn Parish Council has written to Barclays to express its ‘concern and disappointment’ about the bank’s decision to close its Welwyn branch on March 29, after councillors debated the issue and agreed a formal response at a public meeting this week.

An excerpt of the letter, signed by chairman Bill Morris, reads: “(the closure) will have a significant impact in terms of isolating local residents and businesses from access to dedicated financial advice and services.

“We anticipate that it will also present associated challenges in terms of reducing footfall and vitality within our village High Street ... our High Street is dependent upon sustaining the diverse local commercial businesses it currently supports.”

Cllr Morris’ 800-word letter asked for explanations around how Barclays was meeting various requirements outlined in the Access to Banking Standard protocol and requested copies of impact assessments and related documents regarding the closure.

Meanwhile an online petition, which calls for the branch to remain open until at least 2025, has received 500 signatures.

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps and representatives of Welwyn Planning and Development Group, Welwyn Hatfield Council and the parish council are expected to meet with Barclays executives about the closure in early March.

A representative of Mr Shapps, who had parliamentary commitments, attended the parish council meeting on Monday night.

“Grant has heard from lots of people on this, and he understands exactly how badly this would affect the people of Welwyn village,” the representative said.

“He is particularly concerned at the effect this would have on the elderly and disabled members of the community.”

Customers of the branch received letters late last year notifying them of the closure.

In a statement last month, Barclays said customer usage of the branch “has continued to fall (13 percent) and 84 percent of our customers now use telephone and online banking, which is why we have taken the difficult decision to close it.”

After the branch closes, limited banking services will be available at the post office.

The only remaining cashpoint in the village will be located uphill, half a mile away from the branch site.

However, Cllr Morris’ letter argued these options were inadequate, unsustainable and not suitable for all customers.

The letter called for alternative banking services to be considered, such as a mobile van and a ‘community banker’ to meet with customers in shared public spaces.

Barclays have not responded to a request for further comment.

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