‘It’s absolutely crackers’: Maida Vale residents oppose ‘depressing’ closure of Barclays bank
- Credit: Archant
Elderly Maida Vale residents and a local councillor are rallying against the “crackers” closure of Barclays bank in Elgin Avenue.
The high street branch, which opened in 1938, is set to close on December 11 along with its ATM outside the bank.
Fears are being raised over the impact on the area’s most vulnerable residents including the disabled, the elderly and people without a computer or internet access.
Barclays said the closure “wasn’t an easy” decision but that it followed a 19% fall in transactions at the bank in Elgin Avenue.
Elderly Maida Vale resident John Howard, who has arthritis, has been going to the branch for more than 20 years. He doesn’t use online banking.
“I don’t bother with any of that rubbish,” John told the Ham&High. “I much prefer going into the bank and having a cheque written or taking out cash. That’s the way I work.
“What else is going to shut? It’s crackers, absolutely crackers.”
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The next nearest bank to Elgin Avenue is the Barclays in St John’s Wood which is more than one kilometre away, with the HSBC in Kilburn a similar distance.
John said the extra travel to the bank caused him “more problems” and he told Barclays to “think about the elderly people as well”.
Residents have been told they can use the Post Office for everyday transactions but John said he was charged £6 in August to withdraw £200 there.
Maida Vale councillor Rita Begum (Labour) urged the high street bank to reconsider the closure of a “vital local facility”.
She said the branch had taken on even greater importance during the pandemic as more people work from home and fewer people feel safe to travel further.
“This is about having a facility in the community and people being able to access it,” Cllr Begum told this newspaper.
“It’s going to be really, really depressing for the community because they have to travel to ‘XYZ’ to do their banking, rather than having one nearby.”
Maida Vale resident Jacqueline Hilton, 68, has used the bank for nine years and said she was “angry” at its closure given the lack of nearby banks versus the array of estate agents.
A Barclays spokesperson said: “The decision to close a branch is never an easy one. However, customers are increasingly using alternatives to branches to do their banking. As a result, we are seeing a sustained fall in branch visits across the UK.
“This is reflected at the Maida Vale branch where there has been a 19 per cent reduction in counter transactions in the two years to March 2020. In addition, 93 per cent of our customers at the branch are also using different ways to bank.
“We will work with our customers and provide alternative options to ensure they can continue to manage their money and receive financial expertise when required.”
Barclays said the closure is not impacted by coronavirus and that any staff affected will be offered jobs elsewhere in the company.
The high street bank employs around 83,500 people worldwide and recently reported a 58% fall in pre-tax profits to £1.3bn.