LLANIDLOES will be left without a bank later this year, when the Barclays branch in town closes its doors for the last time.
Letters dropped onto the doormats of the bank’s customers last Friday, with signs going up in the branch window the same day, announcing that it will shut down on November 10.
It means Barclays will become the third and final bank to withdraw its services from Llanidloes after the closures of NatWest and HSBC in recent years.
The announcement has been branded a “betrayal” by Russell George AM.
He said: “When Barclays reduced its opening days at the branch two years ago, I met with bank officials then and firmly made the point that the decision should not be a slippery slope to complete closure.
“They assured me at the time that having branches on the High Street was still very much part of their plans.
“I’m therefore angry and disappointed at Barclays’ decision to close its branch in Llanidloes which simply does not reflect the commitments they made to me just two years ago.
“The bank has betrayed the people of Llanidloes and the surrounding areas.
“They know full well that it is the only remaining branch in the town and unilateral decisions like these only confirm that these giant banking groups have absolutely no regard for communities in Mid Wales who rely on their services.”
News of the closure came as a shock to residents, many of whom have just recently switched to Barclays following the closures of the NatWest and HSBC branches.
Llanidloes County Councillor Gareth Morgan said: “What a disgrace. It is extremely bad news. It’s going to drive a lot of business people away from Llanidloes.
“So many people have transferred to Barclays after the closure of NatWest and HSBC.”
Cllr Morgan also said that volunteers depositing cash from things like charity collections or the public toilets would now be faced with long round trips to Newtown that they would not be paid for.
He added: “It’s pointless protesting, they take no notice at all. It is so disappointing.”
County Councillor Phyl Davies, who represents the Blaen Hafren ward and is also a Llanidloes Town Councillor, joined Mr George in meeting with Barclays officials two years ago when he was Mayor of Llanidloes.
He is now calling on residents to join him in fighting the closure.
“It is inconceivable for a town the size of Llanidloes to have no over the counter banking facilities whatsoever and I will be doing everything I can to change this decision,” said Cllr Davies.
“I believe they are treating loyal customers with contempt.”
Plaid Cymru Town Councillors Steve Lees and Aled Griffiths said in a joint statement: “This will be the third bank closure within the last 10 years in Llanidloes.
“This will mean that the people of Llanidloes will be left with no permanent face to face banking facilities. Residents will have to travel to Newtown, Machynlleth or Llandrindod Wells to visit their nearest branch. We oppose this closure, the town needs a bank.”
Barclays said decisions to shut branches were not taken lightly and it would be supporting customers to look at alternative banking methods ahead of the closure.
Raj Dhaliwal, Barclays’ community banking director for the area, said: “The way customers undertake their banking is changing as people increasingly use online, telephone and mobile devices.
“At Barclays’ Llanidloes branch, customer usage has continued to decline and 51 per cent of our customers now regularly use alternative branches, which is why we have taken the difficult decision to close it.
“We hope that the availability of our other Barclays branch at Newtown and access to services at the local Post Office located at Longbridge Street, Llanidloes, along with our range of digital channels will help to ease the transition for our customers.”
A petition opposing the closure has been started by Llanidloes Plaid Cymru Town Councillors and has already surpassed 400 signatures.
– A meeting will be held today, Friday, August 11, at 4pm in Llanidloes Town Council Chamber in the Town Hall.
Members of the public are urged to go along to share their concerns with the Town Council and Glyn Davies MP, who will then take them forward.
See full story in the County Times