Backlash at bank plans to withdraw from town
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Barclays bank has faced a backlash over plans to close its branch in Market Place, Aylsham, following a sharp decline in cash counter transactions over the past few years.
Jerome Mayhew, MP for Broadland, expressed his disappointment at the move and called on Barclays to relocate to a smaller town centre unit, rather than withdrawing from the town all together.
Mr Mayhew said he had met executives from the bank to discuss the closure, which is planned for January 11 next year.
He said the bank was looking at basing staff in a "shared work space" in Aylsham for part of the week for face-to-face appointments with customers - an arrangement which had worked for them in other parts of the country.
Mr Mayhew said that while this would be a positive step, it would not be the best option for the town.
He said: "I said to them 'why don't you take on the lease of a smaller high street shop so you still have a branded presence, and give people confidence that Barclays will remain in Aylsham for the long term?' They would have a reduced footprint, but a permanent one.
"My concern is that a part-time presence in a shared space does not feel long-term to me."
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But Mr Mayhew said it was important to recognise that banking habits were changing, and there was not the same demand for physical branches that there once was.
A Barclays spokesman said: "We are actively investigating the possibility of leaving a presence in Aylsham for our customers, although at the moment it’s too early to say what the outcome will be."
Scores of people have criticised the move on this newspaper's Facebook page, highlighting the reliance of the town's large elderly population on physical bank branches.
One person said: "This is awful, so worrying for the older people."
Another commented: "Why? Banks don’t seem to care anymore about their customers in rural areas. As a retired bank clerk I can’t believe it!"
The next nearest Barclays branches to Aylsham are at Hoveton, Sheringham, Holt and Drayton.