1 March 2000
Farmers fight bank branch closures

FARMERS have vowed to fight a decision by Barclays Bank to close 200 rural branches across England and Wales – even though its profits exceeded 2.5 billion last year.

The bank – which made a 2.64bn profit last year – wrote this week to customers at branches earmarked for closure to tell them that their bank will close for good on 7 April.

A Barclays spokeswoman said the advent of telephone banking and the Internet meant the branches were no longer commercially viable.

Almost 40% of the customers at the affected branches now visited the bank less than once a month, she claimed.

She added that, while some villages might keep cash machines, the more remote areas, where servicing of cash machines would be costly, would lose that service too.

The closures have angered rural communities, which have seen their facilities diminish in recent years, and farmers in Yorkshire have vowed to fight the proposals.

Farmer James Kendall, a district councillor for Reeth, near Richmond, North Yorkshire, said the closure of the villages only bank would be disastrous for the community.

“Reeth has had a bank for more than 100 years and its closure would be yet another blow to the local community,” he said.

“It is ridiculous for Barclays to talk of a boom in Internet and telephone banking in a remote community like ours.”