An MP has accused banking bosses of short changing their customers over a planned branch closure in South Shields – and vowed to try to keep it open.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck hopes to sway Barclays Bank bosses into retaining the branch at the Nook, South Shields. Last week the bank announced it is to close in May but Mrs Lewell-Buck says she expects to meet its officials as early as this week and will urge them to reverse their decision at the Prince Edward Road site.
Barclays blames a drop in customer numbers and claims 71 per cent routinely use other branches.
But Ms Lewell-Buck insists there remains strong demand for it and believes many of her constituents will suffer from the closure.
She said: “Banking is an important part of the community and there are huge numbers of people who want to go into banks.
“I know Barclays has to make a decision over footfall but this could change. They say it has dropped in the past two years but it could recover.
“A lot of older people don’t do online banking and The Nook is incredibly busy. I know that a lot of people living close to this branch, like to use it.
“Barclays has offered to meet with me to discuss the planned closure, and I will be asking it to reconsider, I don’t want the bank to leave the Nook.”
It has advised account holders to swap to its nearest alternative outlet, which is around two miles away in King Street, South Shields.
The closure plan has shocked local businesses, which say the branch is an important attraction to shoppers visiting retail hub.
Barclays, which plans to redeploy the outlet’s four staff members, would not comment on the proposed meeting with Ms Lewell-Buck.
It is believed to have emailed her office last week with an invitation to meet.
Confirming the closure last week, it claimed the way its customers undertake their banking had changed, with more moving to online, telephone and mobile devices.
A spokesman said she hoped customers would use alternative branches, join its digital channels, or access services at the Post Office, also at the Nook.
Barclays will be the second high street bank to quit the Nook in just over 18 months, after Lloyds closed in June 2017.
A branch of Virgin Money continues to trade at Prince Edward Road.
An estimated 13,000 bank branches have closed in the past 30 years, down from 20,583 in 1988 to around 7,580 today.
It has left around 19 per cent of the population more than two miles from their nearest branch.