WESTBURY’s Mayor Gordon King has spoken of his regret at the decision by Barclays to close its High Street Branch in Westbury and how this will affect people in the town.

The branch, which has announced it will close in May, has said it has based its decision on the fact that 78 per cent of branch customers also use other ways of banking, including online and by phone, and the amount of customers who use these alternative forms of banking has increased by 17 per cent since 2012.

The branch have also identified that 54 per cent of their customers have been using neighbouring branches over the last year.

Lloyds will now be the only bank left in Westbury.

Cllr King has explained how this closure will have a negative impact on Westbury residents.

He said: “Barclays have made much use of data relating to the declining use of the branch in terms of footfall, the value and type of transactions, and the changed ways in which banking services are accessed, but have made no qualitative assessment or mention of the impacts of closing the branch will have on the community, the town or the people left behind because of this decision.

“They have made no mention as to whether the present situation is either unsustainable or unaffordable or indeed what they have done themselves to arrest the decline of the branch. Waiting to the last moment to tell customers the Branch will close. According to Home Office figures, Westbury has two distinct areas of significant levels of deprivation, and in many other areas families struggle to make ends meet.

“The decline and loss of banking services denies these communities with access to financial information and services including basic bank accounts. People will have to travel further in the future for such assistance, a situation that is difficult to accept.

“The closing of the Barclays Branch in Westbury is a salutary lesson, should we need one at all, that unless we use our businesses and facilities then they will continue to close.

“My message to everyone is simple, the more we go to Trowbridge or Warminster or even Frome, or go online to shop or access services, then a shop or a service in Westbury will struggle to survive and we will lament its inevitable loss.

“Finally, on behalf of the town council I would say to Barclays that we would like to engage in conversation with you as to what you intend doing with your building post-closure and what use the building and curtilage can have in the future well before a planning application is made.

“We look forward to hearing from them.”

Mark Hatcliffe, community banking director for Barclays Bristol, said: “We have identified that only 92 customers solely use the counter to undertake their banking, which is why we have taken the difficult decision to close the branch, along with the other statistics mentioned.

“We hope that the availability of our nearest Barclays branch at 32 Market Place, Warminster, access to services at the local Post Office in Westbury, along with our range of digital channels will help to ease the transition for our customers.”