CUSTOMERS of Barclays Bank have reacted with anger after it announced the closure next year of its Skipton High Street branch.

A letter from the bank sent out to customers last week stated the branch, which only in August added Fridays to its weekday opening times, would close on March 7 next year.

In the letter, Michael Richardson, the bank's deputy customer care director for Yorkshire, said the closure could be delayed if a review by the UK's largest cash machine network, LINK, concluded there were not enough places in the area to take out or pay in money.

He added Barclays will still be 'part of your community' in Skipton and that details of when and where the bank will be based are being finalised.

He told customers: "In the meantime, we'll be speaking with customers, the local MP, council members, charities, community groups, and local businesses over the coming weeks to hear any thoughts and feedback on this change, for us to respond to."

It follows the closure earlier this year of HSBC Bank in Skipton, leaving NatWest, Halifax Bank; Skipton Building Society and Yorkshire Building Society. Barclays has also closed its branches in Barnoldswick, Bentham, Settle, and Kirkby Lonsdale. 

North Yorkshire Skipton West ward councillor Andy Solloway said people were very angry, and he believed there could be a back-lash with customers taking their business elsewhere.

"Around 15 years ago many banks were bailed out by the taxpayers of this country, yet since then there has been a steady decline in face to face banking facilities.

"I hope that this new “hub” is still fully accessible to vulnerable people, is fully disabled access, dementia friendly and still a welcoming space.

"Many people still rely on face to face, local banking. As well as this being a time when loneliness and mental health have never been more important, online banking is also still very difficult for voluntary organisations, charities and rural communities to do and face to face banking services are still vital for lots of people.

"Personally, I think there could be a backlash against this and people will change their banking to the banks that still have a commitment to high street branches and we may also see more smaller banking operators set up to fill the gaps left by those who seem to forget who kept them afloat at one time."

Former Skipton town councillor, John Dawson, said it was a dreadful decision that would hit particularly hit charities and market traders .

He said: "I am appalled to see that Barclays has announced the closure of its Skipton branch.

"The branch is always very busy so clearly provides an important service to the people of Skipton and area. It is a vital service for local charities who rely heavily on cash transactions as I suspect do many market traders.

"The bank says it will conduct a consultation with local councillors, businesses and charities so it is important we all get our views across to try our best to change this dreadful decision."

Another customer said: "This means there only be will be NatWest and Halifax left as banks with Skipton Building Society and Yorkshire Building Society.

"I know people probably aren't using the branch as much but the lack of counter service means people will look into alternative options."

A Barclays spokesperson said: “As visits to branches continue to fall, with the majority of people preferring to bank online, we need to adapt to provide the best service for all our customers. This is reflected at Skipton, where we are delivering new ways to support our customers and the community with options for those who need in-person services.

“In Skipton we plan to open a Barclays Local – a cashless banking site where customers can meet a colleague face-to-face for banking support, as they would in a branch and without the need to travel. We are currently working with the local community to identify a suitable location and will announce details once confirmed.”