Campaign under way to save Welwyn's only bank branch
PUBLISHED: 13:43 24 January 2019 | UPDATED: 12:25 28 January 2019
A petition has been launched aimed at halting the closure of Welwyn village's only bank branch.
Residents received letters late last year informing them that the Barclays branch will close on March 29.
READ MORE: Welwyn residents angered by Barclays closure as village loses its only bankNow Welwyn resident Christina Raven, a former Liberal Democrat council candidate, has started a petition and the closure is expected to be a hot topic at Welwyn Parish Council’s next public meeting on Monday, January 28 at 7.30pm.
Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps will also be joining Sandra Kyriakides from Welwyn Planning and Development Group (WPAG), Tony Kingsbury, leader of Welwyn Hatfield Council, as well as a Parish Council representative, to quiz Barclays executives about the closure on March 8.
Cllr Kingsbury has written to Barclays signalling his concern, and the council has approached Tesco to consider installing a cash machine.
Mr Shapps called the situation “very worrying”.
Sandra, who is a former independent borough councillor, said: “The vibrant high street of Welwyn Village would suffer greatly from the loss of a ... bank facility, and indeed would its residents – particularly the elderly.”
Ms Raven, who is a self-employed osteopath, argued that she uses the bank at least once a week to pay in cash and cheques preferred by her elderly clients.
“And sometimes there are are small queries that arise where it’s lovely to be able to talk with a human being rather than telephoning a call centre,” she added.
When the branch closes, the nearest banking facilities will be at the post office, which offers only limited services. “Yes one can do simple things at the post office, but not with the speed that the bank provides,” said Christina.
After that, the nearest actual bank branch would be in Welwyn Garden City, and the nearest cash point would be at the far end of the village “up a substantial hill”, said Sandra - not ideal for customers with limited mobility.
“Banks have benefitted and profited from its customers for the past 60 years,” said Sandra. “They have a moral obligation to support them and to find a way of providing physical banking services in rural areas.”
The WPAG is calling for the branch to remain open until at least 2025, suggest that Barclays consider reducing the size of the branch and operating it on a part-time basis.
When approached for comment soon after the announcement, Donna Hagen, community banking director for Barclays said:
“At Barclays Old Welwyn branch, customer usage has continued to fall (13 per cent) and 84 per cent of our customers now use telephone and online banking, which is why we have taken the difficult decision to close it.”
She added that the branch would be holding “tea and teach” sessions to help elderly customers transition to online banking.
The Welwyn Hatfield Times has contacted Barclays to ask if there has been any reconsideration after the public outcry.
The petition calling to keep the branch open can be found here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-bank-3