A Yorkshire MP is urging the residents of a historic market town to support a new community scheme that would prevent the closure of the last bank on the high street.
Barclays has announced that it has chosen Pickering as the first of 10 pilot community branches across the UK, which would see a refurbishment of the town’s remaining branch, the reinstatement of a local manager and a change to opening hours to include Saturdays.
Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake said it was an opportunity to avoid losing the last bank in Pickering “forever” and urged people to get behind the scheme.
It comes after The Yorkshire Post revealed earlier this month that Newcastle Building Society is in talks with the Hawes community to launch a branch based in the Upper Wensleydale Community Office in autumn following the closure of its last bank.
Mr Hollinrake said “The fact is local banks across the country have been closing because people are favouring online, mobile and telephone banking services but this leave a huge gap in towns, like Pickering, where, without Barclays, there would be no bank at all.
“It’s great to see Barclays adapt and be flexible to the changing demands of customers by putting their needs first.
“I really hope the local community will support it because, if they don’t, there is a risk they could lose the last bank in Pickering for ever.”
Cheryl Chappell, who lives in Pickering, has been appointed as the first branch manager and said she “is looking forward to welcoming both new and existing customers to the bank”.
Barclays will be offering a range of additional services to support its customers which includes “Barclays Digital Eagles” on Saturdays, which will provide in-branch activities such as
helping to raise awareness of the skills to stay safe in a digital age, alongside colleague-led seminars to assist with ongoing financial management planning.
Richard Smalley, head of Barclays Local UK, said: “In Pickering, we believe there is real appetite amongst businesses and the local community to support us in keeping the branch open.
“In order to do this, we’re asking the community to get behind us and speak to us for more information.
“Our ambition is to work in direct partnership with the town to keep local branch-based banking sustainable over the long term.”
Among the Yorkshire towns now without banks is Hebden Bridge, where Barclays and Lloyds closed within a year of each other.
Banks and building societies had 20,583 branches in 1988 according to parliamentary records. It is estimated that the number is now as low as 7,500.
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