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Barclays delays bank closure while new hub is set up

Female campaigner stands outside the Barclays Bank branch in Leiston
A protest against the closure was organised by Julia Ewart, a bank customer and the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Suffolk Coastal [GUY CAMPBELL/BBC ]

The closure of a Barclays Bank branch in Suffolk has been postponed to allow more time for a new local banking hub to be set up.

In January, Barclays said it would close its branch on Main Street in Leiston on 17 May as "the majority of people preferred to bank online".

But this week the company announced the town's last bank would be "staying open for now" but no time frame was given for how long the reprieve would last.

Campaigners fighting to keep the branch open have appealed to Barclays to have a major rethink over the closure plans.

In an online announcement Barclays told customers: "We’ll now keep it open to give Cash Access UK time to provide a banking hub in Leiston.

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"We’ll share the new closure date when we know it."

A spokesman for Cash Access UK said: "The first job is to find a suitable and available location.

"We will keep the community updated once we identify the future home for the Hub."

Woman wearing bright red bead necklace stands in a shop
Leiston trader Helen Barker says the new banking hub needs to be in a central location [GUY CAMPBELL/BBC]

Julia Ewart, a customer at the bank and the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Suffolk Coastal, said Barclays' latest move was a sign its closure plans were flawed and had been made in haste.

"The decision to close this bank is unacceptable and has just come all too early.

"There is a lack of planning here and they didn't quite get it right.

The brick https://optimo.tools.bbc.co.uk/_activities/imageUpload/image?locator=3cdb%2Flive%2F1c700b70-1457-11ef-8838-814acca81729.jpg&bucket=cps-images-private-livefacade of the Barclays Bank branch in Leiston with a woman withdrawing cash from a machine in the wall
Leiston's nearest Barclays branch is 25 miles (40km) away in Lowestoft. [GUY CAMPBELL/BBC]

Helen Barker who runs the Sandlings shop in the town said: "It's good to have the bank remain open for a bit longer but if it's still going to shut eventually it's not really helping at all, especially as the new hub is not going to have facilities for taking cash from traders."

It is understood the hub will offer cashless banking services and provide customers with a place to meet staff face-to-face.

Barclays insisted only 64 customers used its Leiston branch and did not bank in other ways.

It said it did not intend to make redundancies as a result of the closure.

The company has been approached for comment over the delayed closure.

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