Local councillors lead fight to save town’s bank

LLANDRINDOD Wells county councillors have reacted angrily to proposals by Barclays Bank to close its branch in the town – labelling the decision an “insult” to customers.

The announcement from Barclays came on Friday (May 21), with bank chiefs confirming they will be closing the Middleton Street branch on August 26. They have cited a decline over the last two years of counter transactions as one of a plethora of reasons for the bank’s withdrawal from the spa town – claiming that 75 per cent of Barclays customers locally now use other ways to do their banking, such as online and by telephone.

In the past 12 months, Barclays also said 35 per cent of Llandrindod customers have been using nearby branches, in Builth Wells and Newtown. They also say they have identified that only 130 customers use this branch exclusively for their banking.

Liberal Democrat county councillors Pete Roberts and Jake Berriman, however, expressed anger at the decision and have already launched a petition to keep the branch open.

“The decision to pull out of town is a major concern for residents and traders alike,” said Councillor Roberts, who represents the Llandrindod South ward. “For many residents, the suggestion that they should go to Builth Wells or Newtown is not realistic.

“Having looked at the bank’s ‘consultation’ document it raised more questions than answers and having undertaken further research we will be writing to the bank seeking clarification on a number of issues.”

Cllr Berriman, who represents the town’s north ward, added: “Llandrindod North has one of the oldest populations in Wales with many reliant on banking services in town.

“To suggest an 80-year-old resident should get a bus to Builth Wells or go online when they don’t have an internet connection is frankly an insult.”

Both councillors have launched a petition to keep the branch open and will be developing a user survey over the next week to gather the evidence needed to challenge some of the assumptions made by the bank.

The campaign has also gained the support of Lib Dem Mid and West Wales Senedd Member Jane Dodds. “The banks are systematically pulling out of rural market towns without looking at innovative solutions such as sharing buildings,” said Ms Dodds.

“Off the back of the support, they have been given to see them through the Covid pandemic they owe rural communities a duty of care and I will be doing everything I can to help my council colleagues in their fight to save this branch.”

“This branch is closing but your bank is always open,” Barclays said in a booklet explaining the impending closure.

“The number of counter transactions has gone down in the previous 24 months and, additionally, 75 per cent of our branch customers also use other ways to do their banking such as online and by telephone.

“Customers using other ways to do their banking has increased by 13 per cent since 2015. In the past 12 months, 35 per cent of this branch’s customers have been using nearby branches.

“We’ve identified that only 130 customers use this branch exclusively for their banking.”

In a second booklet, which will be available from the branch prior to it closing or online at home.barclays/ukbranchclosures, Barclays say they’ll share concerns and feedback from the local community.

Barclays say proposals to close any branch are made by the local leadership teams and verified at a national level ahead of any closure announcement. If you have any questions and concerns about these changes, get in touch over the phone on 03457 345 345, or email market director Adrian Davies on Adrian.Davies@barclayscorp.com.

County Times | Llandrindod Wells & Rhayader