POLITICAL leaders in St Helens will contact Barclays bosses over the proposed closure of the town’s branch stating branding it “not acceptable without “addressing concerns of local residents”.

The premises, on Church Street, is to close with the bank citing “significantly changing” customer behaviour.

The bank says 39 regular customers use the St Helens branch exclusively and added the role of the physical branch is “evolving, with fewer than 10 per cent of transactions now taking place inside a branch”.

Barclays said it is to open a Barclays Local – a pop-up cashless banking site where customers can meet a colleague face-to-face for banking support

The closure, earmarked for Thursday, May 4, has caused political figures in the town to express their concerns.

St Helens Star: Cllr David BainesCllr David Baines (Image: Stock)

The leader of St Helens Council David Baines said he will write to the chief executive of Barclays to “set out the concerns of a great many residents” over the announced upcoming closure of the bank’s St Helens branch.

Cllr David Baines said that while “it may be easy to defend the closures by pointing to increasing numbers of customers using online banking”, he asserted “it’s not so easy to defend the harm they do to the vulnerable, the elderly, and local small businesses”.

The local authority leader stated he would write to Barclays CEO Matt Hammerstein over the matter and “seek clarity” over their plans for a pop-up ‘Barclays Local’ in the town.

St Helens Star: The branch will close on May 4The branch will close on May 4 (Image: St Helens Star)

Cllr Baines said: ““Since 2012 more than one third of bank and building society branches have closed in the UK, leaving many people in difficulty and impacting high streets across the country. While it may be easy to defend the closures by pointing to increasing numbers of customers using online banking, it’s not so easy to defend the harm they do to the vulnerable, the elderly, and local small businesses who rely on face-to-face service.

“It’s also impossible to defend it as a cost-saving measure when you consider that Barclays most recently made profits of over £2billion.”

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The Labour council leader added: “With more branches closing and more ATMs introducing charges, access to cash is a growing problem and government need to take steps to intervene and ensure minimum service in our communities.

“I will be writing to Barclays CEO Matt Hammerstein to set out the concerns of a great many residents, and to seek clarity on their plans for a ‘Barclays Local’.  I will also be inviting him to St Helens to discuss our plans for growth in the town centre and wider borough.

“I would very much like Barclays to be part of our town centre for many years to come, and I hope they will reconsider their position.”

St Helens Star: Marie Rimmer MPMarie Rimmer MP (Image: St Helens Star)

Meanwhile, Marie Rimmer, St Helens South & Whiston, MP has penned a letter to Mr Hammerstein in which she asked for “guarantees” over future Barclays services in the town.

In the letter, she said “I would like to stress that this should have been finalised before this notice was given to customers. Many of whom will now be extremely worried and concerned about their access to services that their livelihoods depend on£.

Ms Rimmer asked for a guarantee that “all the services that are currently available will still be available in a new location”, stating “I understand that in your notice for security reasons access to cash will not be possible in a scaled down operation and customers will instead have to go to the Post Office”.

Ms Rimmer added “there is also a serious concern over how frequent these services will be available”.

She also questioned “how long will the scaled down operation be in place”. Saying “these are services that people rely upon. If they are only going to have to swap bank a year down the line when the new service closes, many would prefer to do that sooner rather than later”.

The Labour MP added: “It is not acceptable to give notice of closure without addressing concerns of local residents”.