NE Herts MP Oliver Heald has met Donna Hagan and Terry Scarf, Barclays directors dealing with community banking to press the case for the Baldock Branch threatened with closure and the Buntingford Branch subject to reduced hours.
At the Westminster meeting, Oliver pointed out that Baldock is an expanding community, distinct from Letchworth (the nearest Branch) and that Barclays is the last major Bank locally. He explained that locally there is a strong desire to keep a full branch. Ms Donna Hagan argued that Baldock had seen a big fall in transactions from over 95,000 in 2012 to less than 29,000 now. Oliver asked her to look at the footfall, because customers may do more than one transaction each time and the pattern of business may change, but that does not mean that counter services are not required for serious matters. He also asked for an assessment of the effect of the proposed new building in the town. She said that Baldock staff would be relocated to Letchworth to maintain customer relationships.
The news in Buntingford was better with Mr Terry Scarf explaining that the reduced hours reflect times when the Branch is being used very little, but the reduced hours also show that the Bank wants to keep the Branch open, particularly as Buntingford is a distance from other towns. He promised to keep in touch about branch matters. He said that there is no plan to close Buntingford Branch.
Commenting Oliver said:
“It was good to have a frank meeting with Barclays and I was able to put all issues raised with me by constituents. I did not feel that I convinced Ms Hagan to think again about Baldock, but I hope she will think over the points made, particularly about this being an expanding town.
On Buntingford, Mr Scarf was much more reassuring and was aware of Buntingford’s situation some distance from other towns and that it too is expanding. He explained that he was matching the hours to local use of the Branch and that he would keep in contact with me. There is no plan to close the Branch, he told me. This seemed better news and I will continue to monitor the situation.”