TOWNS and villages across the borough will be left without a single high street bank by this summer when the last branch closes its doors.
Barclays insists its King Street, Hoyland branch only has a dozen regular customers but its closure in July following a decade of other branch closures across the borough will inflict ‘serious damage’ on elderly customers who are not comfortable using cash machines or online banking apps, it has been claimed.
The bank also claims almost 90 per cent of its customers have also carried out their banking by app, online or by phone but the closure means anyone needing face-to-face banking services will have to go into Barnsley town centre or travel to Sheffield.
Coun Chris Lamb, who represents the Rockingham ward and is also the deputy leader of the council, told the Chronicle the local authority is ‘powerless’ to do anything.
He accused Barclays of having no concern for the impact the closure would mean for its customers.
“Barclays are inflicting serious damage upon our community particularly the elderly and vulnerable who don’t use online banking, whilst last year they made an obscene profit of £5bn.
“Regrettably this is yet another example of big business riding roughshod over ordinary people without any concern about the lasting damage caused.
“As a local council, we are powerless to prevent this but I do wonder when this lame-duck government are going to start to stand up for the ordinary person in the street.”
A Barclays spokesperson said they are holding a consultation period to hear customers’ views.
They added: “When we opened the branch, visiting us in person was one of the only ways to do your banking.
“Now, as there are lots of ways to manage your money without even leaving your home, we’re seeing many customers choosing to bank using our app, and online or telephone banking.
“This has had a big impact on the number of customers coming in to see us.
“We’ll be working with the local community to understand the impact of closing this branch.
“Once we’ve gathered feedback, we’ll publish the results.”
The Barnsley East constituency which includes Hoyland had the borough’s last surviving branch but the town will have lost branches of five different banks since 2015.
In neighbouring Wombwell, an unsuccessful campaign was launched to try to save the branch of the Yorkshire Bank which later became Virgin Money.
According to figures, two banks have been shuttered in Barnsley Central since the start of 2015, leaving ten remaining in the area all in the town centre.
Stephanie Peacock, MP for Barnsley East, told the Chronicle she was sad to see the branch close.
She added: “The closure of the Barclays branch is a sad loss for the community.
“This dramatically reduces the availability of physical cash to people in the Barnsley East area, and removes the in-person service many prefer.”
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, whose constituency is the only one left with high street banks, told the Chronicle that consideration must be given to elderly residents who aren’t ready to make the switch to online banking.
He said: “The closure of this branch follows a number of other recent branch closures which will have a disproportionate impact on elderly and vulnerable residents, who rely on face-to-face services.
“While the pandemic undoubtedly accelerated a move to online banking, many people are not yet ready to make the switch.
“It’s good to see banks offering digital alternatives like video appointments and telephone banking, but consideration must also be given to the needs of older customers, many of whom will have concerns about online scams or may be less mobile and able to travel.”
Anabel Hoult, chief executive of consumer champion Which?, added that greater scrutiny of branch closures must be in place to ensure that people who still rely on cash are able to access it.
She added: “The alarming acceleration of bank branch closures has left many people who depend on them for essential banking services at risk of being cut adrift, which seems to fly in the face of work being done across the industry to protect access to cash.
“While many people can now bank digitally, millions of people are not yet ready or able to do so.”