Only bank in Needham Market to close in September

Mark Westley Photography'Barclays Bank High Street Needham market. ANL-140618-230351009
Mark Westley Photography'Barclays Bank High Street Needham market. ANL-140618-230351009
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The closure of the only bank and 24-hour cash point in Needham Market has been described as a ‘blow’ to the town.

Barclays has decided to close the bank’s high street branch on September 5 after a decline in customers over a number of years.

A spokesman from the bank said people could carry out everyday transactions at the nearby post office and that it was extending the opening hours of its Stowmarket branch.

But district councillor Wendy Marchant said the decision would affect the most vulnerable members of the community.

She said: “Barclays are saying you could go to the post office instead, but the post office doesn’t provide everything a bank does. The Barclays in the town is always busy – whenever you go you have to wait a while to be served. It is a key service that is well used.

“There is a high percentage of elderly people in Needham Market, who would find it difficult to get to Stowmarket, and aren’t familiar with computers. The population of Needham Market is increasing with housing projects at the Maltings and the Chalk Pits in town.

“The decision seems a bit short sighted.”

Town clerk Kevin Hunter said the town council was meeting with representatives from the bank today to discuss the closure.

He said: “It’s a blow and out of the blue. Needham Market has a relatively high proportion of elderly people in its population but the range of people coming to us has been quite broad – it has been people in the elderly age group but businesses as well.”

A Barclays spokeswoman said: “The way customers undertake their banking is changing as people increasingly use online, telephone and mobile devices. In response to this change in customer behaviour we must evolve our business to meet their needs.

She said staff at the branch has been consulted and would be given the opportunity to work at a nearby branch.