Outrage over closure of town's last bank branch

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

A decision to close the final bank branch in Holt has been slammed as "grossly unfair".

Barclays has announced its High Street branch will shut on December 9. The firm - which made a net profit of £6.38 billion last year - said there were only 10 customers who used the branch exclusively for their banking and did not interact with them in other ways. 

Duncan Baker, North Norfolk MP and former Holt mayor, said he was "devastated" by the bank's decision. 

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."

A Barclays spokesperson said the decision to close a branch was "never an easy one".

The spokesperson said: "However, customers are increasingly using alternatives to branches to do their banking and, as a result, we are seeing a sustained fall in branch visits across the UK.

“This is reflected at our Holt branch, where we’ve seen a 55pc reduction in counter transactions in the last 12 months, when compared to March 2020."

The bank said 80pc of customers who used the branch also used other ways of banking. 

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But Mr Baker said the bank's figures were "hugely impacted by the Covid pandemic" and the decision would have "far-reaching consequences".

He said: "It is virtually impossible and grossly unfair to make footfall comparisons in recent years given all that has happened.

Duncan Baker, speaking at the launch of the Wheelyboat, 'Poppy', in Blakeney

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker. - Credit: Brittany Woodman

"It is just not realistic and a totally false representation of the branch to use these figures for what we know is a popular and well-used bank.

"Holt is an exceptionally vibrant and busy town. Whilst its population may be less than neighbouring towns, to be left with no bank at all will have an enormous impact on so many people. 

"For Barclays to cite the services of Sheringham and Fakenham as the closest branches shows little understanding of the rural nature of the area and lack of infrastructure of public transport, let alone vulnerability of its older demographics."

Barclays said it would work with customers to "provide alternative options" so they could continue to manage their money and receive financial expertise when required.

A spokesman said: "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.”

But Mr Baker said this was not good enough. 

He said: "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.