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March bank closure is to reduce operating costs, says reader

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In April, the March branch of Barclays informed its customers that the branch will be closing on July 23.

Over the past few years, high street banks have been systematically closing branches in towns and cities in Cambridgeshire and throughout the UK.

Their aim has been to reduce their operating costs, thereby increasing profits for their shareholders. However, these decisions have had negative consequences for many of their personal banking customers.

Barclays is closing its March branch. (47197251)
Barclays is closing its March branch. (47197251)

The banks argue that local branches are no longer commercially viable because most customers routinely use digital banking. However, many customers cannot or do not wish to use on-line banking, telephone banking or a mobile phone app for perfectly valid reasons; they prefer to have face-to-face contact in the local branch with knowledgeable, trustworthy and experienced members of staff who understand their needs and communicate well with customers. Digital banking should be an additional banking service and not a substitute for a local branch service. Customers should have the choice about how, when and where they manage their money.

When a branch closure is announced by a high street bank, their customers are usually directed to the nearest Post Office to deposit and withdraw cash from their bank accounts and pay bills.

However, the Post Office does not provide other services such as transferring money, opening new current and savings accounts, insurance and obtaining mortgages and personal loans.

Furthermore, when dealing with more complex matters such as legal documents including power of attorney and grant of probate, it is necessary to visit the bank.

When a branch closes, the nearest alternative branches are usually some distance away.

These branches can be difficult to reach for customers who cannot or no longer drive and have to travel using the infrequent local bus services in rural areas.

Banks expect customers to simply accept the closure of branches in town centres like March.

However, if people want their branch to remain open, then they should take action by writing, emailing and telephoning the bank to voice their concerns.

They should also contact their MP. If people do not oppose the closures, then all the banks in March will eventually disappear.

Angela Thomas


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