Warning that more banks could be closed

17/6/14- Barclays Bank in Battle. SUS-140617-125945001
17/6/14- Barclays Bank in Battle. SUS-140617-125945001

Banks in rural areas are increasingly under threat of being closed warned the Rural Services Network this week,

The concerns come during a swathe of closures which have seen branches at Battle and Little Common shutting their doors.

Now big banks are being urged to keep branches open in small towns.

The call comes from Business Secretary Vince Cable who expressed worries after Lloyds Banking Group confirmed last month that it would be cutting 9,000 jobs along with the net closure of 150 branches over the next three years.

Banks say the way people undertake their banking has changed, with more people using online services and mobile devices to access their accounts.

There was anger from customers of Barclays Bank, in Battle High Street after plans were announced to close the branch in September.

They said the news came out of the blue and that the bank did not consult them over the plans.

One furious customer from Battle said: “I am annoyed that they have undertaken this decision without any consultation with their customers whatsoever.

“Barclays made £5.2bn last year - so any attempt to justify this decision as a cost saving initiative is clearly nonsense.”

Battle resident Robert Gee has been a Barclays customer for 50 years. He said: “It’s going to be very, very difficult for people.

“A lot of people of come in from the villages to use the branch.

Barry Turner lives in Bexhill, but banks using the Battle branch.

He said: “My family have been banking there for one hundred years. It’s come out of the blue, really.”

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has also raised the issue in Parliament.

He said: “It is a deeply unsettling time for staff, residents and local businesses.

“My message to the banks is clear: you have received help and in some cases bailouts from taxpayers, We now need your help – don’t let us down.You have an obligation to us.”

A Barclays spokesperson 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.”

RBS made a pledge in 2011 not to shut branches where it was the last in town but in April it emerged that it had closed 44 branches, including 14 where it was the last branch in town.

Rye currently has branches of Lloyds, Nat West, HSBC and Barclays in the town centre.