Fear over Barclays’ closure

Barclays Bank in Clifton Street Lytham
Barclays Bank in Clifton Street Lytham

The loss of another bank in Lytham could hit business in the town, traders fear.

Barclays has announced it is to shut its branch in Clifton Street on May 17, citing a substantial fall in the number of in-branch transactions and increasing use of online and telephone banking.

A spokesman for the bank said only 42 customers now use the branch exclusively for their banking and that customers using other ways to do their banking has increased by 18 per cent since 2012.

“The closing down of Barclays Bank will undoubtedly have a negative impact, not only for it’s customers, but the town and businesses as a whole,” said Denize Ashton, chairman of the Lytham Business Partnership.

“Financial institutions have always played a major part in towns and their communities.

“Many people make weekly trips to do their banking, when they also take the chance to spend some time – and money – in the town.

“The closure of this branch will mean fewer visits and therefore reduced footfall.

“Added to that, business owners with Barclays will have to make the trip out of town too. There has been a lot in the media to indicate that the closure of banks is speeding up the decline of the traditional ‘high street’ – I hope that is not the case in Lytham.”

Pat Booth, co-owner of Plackitt and Booth bookshop, close to Barclays on Clifton Street, said: “It is bound to have an effect on the town.

”Anything which disappears from the main shopping street which has been there for such a long time has to be a bad thing.

“And after it closes, an unoccupied property hardly gives the best impression.

“We have to strive to make the town as attractive as 
possible and an empty property is very unattractive.”

Barclays’ departure will leave Lytham with just two banks – Lloyds and Santander – and as was the case with NatWest and HSBC, which both pulled out of Lytham in 2017, customers are being directed to the branch in St Annes.

Lytham’s close neighbour still has six banks but, along with the fears over the closures’ effect on trade, concern has been expressed that having to make the six-mile round trip to call at a bank is too much to ask of a substantial number of customers.

Coun Mark Bamforth said: “The loss of Barclays will undoubtedly be a blow.

“I think it is unfair of the banks to assume that simply going along to the nearest branch or banking online are suitable alternatives for customers, particularly the elderly.

“Many older customers who have used branches for years like to stick to that and it’s unfair to just expect them to make the journey to the next available branch or do their banking a different way after so many years.”

Barclays’ announcement came just days after the Royal Bank of Scotland closed its branch in Kirkham to leave that town without a bank at all.

RBS, which pulled out of Lytham in 2015 and St Annes last year, also closed in Blackpool last week to leave Preston the nearest branch for Fylde coast customers.

Steve Lilley of Grundy’s ironmongers, who has chaired the Kirkham and Wesham Business Group, is concerned at the effect on footfall of the loss of the bank and also the impression given by the empty properties they leave behind.

“It’s very sad to see them go and the ATMs at the same time, to make it even more difficult to access money,” he said.

“Business can be done at the post office but they are very busy because of the bank closures.”