MP concedes defeat in fight to save South Shields bank

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has conceded defeat in her bid to stop Barclays closing one of its three South Tyneside branches - a move she says will affect around 160 ‘vulnerable’ customers.

Monday, 11th March 2019, 5:00 am
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck

Mrs Lewell-Buck had vowed to try to prevent the banking giant shutting its Prince Edward Road outlet, at the Nook, South Shields, on May 10 – and has now met with bosses.

When Barclays announced the move in January, the South Shields Labour MP accused it of short changing customers and said she hoped it might reverse its decision.

Barclays Bank, at The Nook is due to close

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Despite her intervention, the bank has confirmed the closure, ending a decades-long link with the popular retail centre.

It has blamed declining footfall and a switch to internet banking – and insists it is working with customers who will lose the facility.

Mrs Lewell-Buck and a number of South Tyneside councillors met Barclays management at its branch in King Street, South Shields.

Afterwards, she said the bank had confirmed 160 customers, believed to include some who are elderly, had been identified as being ‘vulnerable’.

She said: “My main concern was always for the people who live in that area who don’t have transport links to get into town to the other branch. It looks to me like the bank is working hard to find alternative operations for customers, and I feel reassured around that.

“Unfortunately closures are happening everywhere and many people now prefer to do their banking online.

“I was told that 160 customers who are vulnerable will be contacted and advised about other ways they can do their banking. There will be no job losses, which is a good thing.”

In a statement, Barclays, which also has a branch in Ellison Street, Jarrow, said: “As part of our local engagement plan, I can confirm that we have met with the local MP and councillors to discuss our decision to close Harton branch.

“We are continuing to proactively engage with customers who we’ve identified may need additional help, and our local business customers, to highlight the alternative ways in which to bank with us once the branch closes on Friday 10th May 2019.

“This includes using any Post Office for everyday banking transactions, our alternative branches, alongside our digital and telephony services.

“We urge any customer who has concerns about how to undertake their banking once Harton branch closes to contact us directly. ”

The closure move shocked other Nook businesses, who said the Barclays branch was an important attraction to shoppers visiting the retail hub.

Barclays will be the second high street bank to quit the centre in less than two years, with Lloyds having closed in June 2017.

A branch of Virgin Money continues to trade at Prince Edward Road.