Barclays shuts down New Milton and Christchurch branches
“IT’S very sad for the town.” These were the words of a resident lamenting the loss of one of two branches of Barclays which are closing their doors to customers in July.
A drop in counter transactions by around a fifth prompted the major banking chain to call time on the outlets in Station Road, New Milton, and High Street, Christchurch.
Letters have been sent to customers announcing the New Milton closure will happen on 22nd July, the day after the one in Christchurch shuts.
Barclays has sought to assure staff there are no redundancy plans, with affected workers being offered alternative roles.
New Milton resident Maureen Keates, who has been a Barclays customer for 62 years, said she was considering closing her account and opening one with the Post Office one following its advice that customers can use the post office in Station Road or Beechwood Avenue for their banking needs.
Although she would not have difficulty herself travelling to the nearest available alternative branch, in High Street, Lymington, Mrs Keates said others were not so fortunate.
“To actually refer you to Lymington pre-supposes you have the means to get there,” she continued.
“It’s not just older people, but some younger people can have difficulty getting there.”
She added: “I just think it’s very sad for the town. As we’re opening up as a society, it’s sad that big names are closing down.”
A Barclays spokesperson said New Milton's branch was regularly used exclusively for banking by only 91 of its customers.
They pointed out cash counter transactions fell 19% in the two years to March 2020, with 81% of customers using different banking methods.
“The decision to close a branch is never an easy one,” the spokesperson said.
“However, customers are increasingly using alternatives to branches to do their banking. As a result, we are seeing a sustained fall in branch visits across the UK.”
Christchurch's counter transactions saw a similar drop of 22%, the spokesperson said, with 143 regulars using it exclusively for banking.
The nearest alternative branches are at the Castlepoint shopping centre and Old Christchurch Road in Bournemouth. The nearest post office is in Christchurch’s Saxon Square.
Christchurch Chamber of Trade and Commerce president Andrew Barfield believed it was to be expected with the increase in online and phone banking.
"Christchurch, like all towns, owed its vibrancy to people coming into their bank who would then stay to shop," he said.
"It is a shame, but Christchurch has become much more of a hospitality destination with people coming to meet friends over coffee or lunch followed by a browse round the shops.
"We just hope that the Barclays site is taken over soon by another business in the same way the neighbouring vacant premises are now being transformed into a Renoufs Pantry."