Littleport residents - supported by a Dalek, Superman, Spiderman and Freddie the parrot- protest over closure of Barclays Bank
- Credit: Archant
A Dalek, Superman, Spiderman, and a parrot named Freddie joined a 100 strong protest to try and keep a bank open.
The protest in Littleport High Street on Saturday was an ebullient affair with most accepting Barclays Bank wouldn’t reprieve the branch but villagers determined not to abandon the cause lightly.
Petitions and protest letters have gone to the bank following their announcement of its closure in October and many hope the intervention of MP Steve Barclay might still offer hope.
Councillor Geoff Norman was among those holding up ‘save our bank’ placards and believes the bank is making a mistake.
“The village is growing at a fast rate and every time I’ve been into the bank there’s always been a queue,” he said. “I’m surprised at the decision to close it.”
Barclays insist the decision is not one they took lightly and say customer usage has declined “which is why we have taken the difficult decision to close the branch on October 9”.
But Councillor Jo Webber said the fight to retain the branch would not end until the doors close.
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“It’s really important we keep a branch here because the town is growing, with a new school complex coming and hundreds of new houses being built,” she said
Parish councillor Christine Ambrose Smith was among those who met with Mr Barclay last month and representatives of the bank.
On a Facebook post she said footfall has decreased as many people obviously use other ways of banking such as cards, transfers, online and mobile phones.
“But there are still many in the village for which this is not an option,” she wrote. “Many of our older residents, businesses who deal in cash, personal, business and community groups who need to pay in cash and cheques to their accounts.
“Many people prefer to deal face to face with their banking and find it difficult to sort out queries over the telephone. Littleport is set to expand considerably in the coming years and having a bank in the village is an asset.”
Cllr Norman said it was surprising that many other towns had retained their bank but Littleport had been targeted for closure.
“Maybe it’s because they own the building here and so have no lease to surrender or get out of” he said.
Cllr Ambrose Smith said: “No consultation was carried out with the community before the final decision to close was taken. This is unacceptable.”
Many of those protesting outside the bank spoke of the difficulties they would now face in using their bank. One man in a wheelchair held up a placard pointing out that he would be faced with a 50 mile journey to use a bank: he calculated the distance from Cambridge for his son to pick him up and go into Ely.
Francis Brown wrote on Facebook: “It is not to long ago that the big four banks said they would not close a branch if it was the only bank left in a town or village.”
Another wrote: “I actually found out whilst in this branch doing my banking; the counter staff handed myself a leaflet.
“I then in turn had to break the news to my 75 year old mother, who was very angry that this branch is to close; even though she is still fortunate to drive she absolutely detests having to do her banking at Ely Barclays and prefers Littleport as do I.”
Mr Barclay said: “I have written to both the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid MP and the acting chief executive of Barclays, John McFarlane to set out my concerns and urge the bank to reconsider their decision.
“It seems that Barclays’ has treated the decision as a fait accompli. I am shocked that the bank has ignored the industry agreed protocol put in place last year regarding the last bank in the town, used flawed data, and not bothered to have any consultation with the public prior to this closure.”