'Bank hub' proposed to save town from final branch closure

Barclays has announced it is closing its branch in Holt's High Street, inset, county councillor Steffan Aquarone,

Barclays has announced it is closing its branch in Holt's High Street, inset, county councillor Steffan Aquarone, who has suggested a bank hub could be the way forward. - Credit: Archant/Google StreetView

Opening a new kind of 'bank hub' in Holt could be a way to keep banking services in the town, a county councillor has said.

Lib Dem Steffan Aquarone, who represents Melton Constable division, said such Post Office-run bank hubs had been trialled in other parts of the country including Essex and Devon in recent years and the idea could also work in Holt. 

It follows last week's shock announcement by Barclays that it would close its branch in Holt's High Street - the last bank in the town - on December 9. 

Mr Aquarone said: "Bank hubs are where banks work jointly to offer cash services on high streets, with spaces for people to speak to their own bank.  

"They’ve worked well in a range of areas and Holt would be a perfect candidate – not least because of how many surrounding villages there are."

Steffan Aquarone has suggested a 'bank hub' for Holt.

Steffan Aquarone has suggested a 'bank hub' for Holt. - Credit: Archant

Mr Aquarone said he had written to Barclays' chief executive Matt Hammerstein about the closure. 

He said: "It is my belief that banks have a duty to make sure that all everyone can have access to banking services and I have urged Barclays to reconsider this decision, or at the very least maintain their ATM machines at the location."

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker has also criticised Barclays' decision, and said a meeting of town, district and county councillors and himself was being planned over the closure. 

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Mr Baker said: "I have seen no consultation, instead we have an understandably shocked community coming to terms with what feels like a foregone conclusion.

The Barclays branch in High Street, Holt, will close later this year.

The Barclays branch in High Street, Holt, will close later this year. - Credit: Google StreetView

"Perhaps it is the removal of cash facilities in Holt which will be most deeply felt. There will be no external access to cash after this cashpoint is removed, impacting not only on residents and visitors but putting small traders who deal exclusive in cash at a severe disadvantage."

In response to the 'bank hub idea, a Barclays spokesman said: "Barclays supports the Cash Action Group to ensure that where customers still require physical provision of cash access, industry provides it.

“As a result of the new arrangements that were announced by the Cash Action Group last December, Link (the organisation that oversees the ATM network) undertakes an independent review of each community to be impacted by banking service closures to assess their cash needs.

“Following that review, Link has the autonomy to commission new cash services, which could be an ATM, enhancements to local Post Office facilities or a Bank Hub, if an unmet need is identified. Link has assessed the impact of the Holt closure and we are awaiting their recommendations.

“In addition, we will work with our customers and provide alternative options to ensure they can continue to manage their money and receive financial expertise when required. This includes working with the local community to find different, more flexible ways for our colleagues to continue to provide local banking support, such as through pop-up presences.”