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Barclays confirm closure of Gosport branch

By Connor Steel

BARCLAYS BANK have announced that their popular Gosport branch will shut down later this spring as they confirmed another fifteen closures nationwide; citing poor footfall and the ongoing momentum towards online banking in recent years in a statement released by the finance business on Saturday afternoon (January 28).

Located at 43/44 High Street the branch in Gosport will be closing to all customers on Wednesday, April 26; ending its lengthy association with the local community lasting multiple generation. It joins its fellow branches from London and Bridgwater closing in May, with the Havant and Petersfield facilities shutting down in 2022.

According to a statement Gosport has seen a sixty percent reduction in their face-to-face counter interaction figure in the twelve months to March 2021 when compared to the year before. This is partly due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in the pandemic but does reflect that customers have moved to other ways of banking.

Statistics state that ninety-two percent of its customers are using telephones, mobile applications, and online banking to undertake previously human tasks; including requesting new bank cards and depositing cheques. This means that running face-to-face branches have become financially unviable in multiple towns and cities.

Barclays have stated their full confidence that access to banking remains sufficient in Gosport with everyday transactions still able to be completed at all Post Offices, including facilities located at 132 High Street. Thirty ATMs are further available within just one mile of the closing Gosport branch, including those at other banks.

One Globe reader said: “This news doesn’t surprise me as people have become confident in online banking and the ease of access it provides. The closure is an example of losing unused sites although it is a shame that workers will now face uncertainty and trust that vulnerable customers are supported with their banking”.

Gosport MP Dame Caroline Dinenage added her thoughts in a shorter media interview for Portsmouth News, stating: “I understand that online banking and declining footfall makes it tempting for a bank to close, but this is a disaster for the most vulnerable and elderly in our communities who may all struggle in the digital world.”

She continued to state the argument for face-to-face transactions and the increased danger posed by online banking over the recent years, adding that: “At a time where online scams are at eye-watering levels, banks should be thinking of more imaginative ways to ensure a face to face service is still available (for everyone).”

Barclays have stated their appreciation for those who have not ‘adopted change at the same pace as others; the Gosport branch believed to have twelve regular customers. Staff have pledged to make personal contact with these people to discuss their options and guide them through alternative methods to bank before 26/04.

Bosses are also looking into the creation of ‘banking hubs’, which could see counters set up in post offices to allow face-to-face interactions. It would be run in a similar way to ‘post office’ hubs that are currently based in local convenience stores, but details are sketchy and Barclays customers shouldn’t expect an urgent update.

The bank will remain open for business in Gosport until its closing date with varying hours; including 9:30am to 2:30pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. It closes an hour early on Saturday (1:30pm) and opens half an hour later on Wednesdays (10am) with the branch shut for face-to-face customers on Sunday / Thursday.

In the meantime the nearest Barclays branch will be located at 67-69 West Street in Fareham, which is also a larger site that is unlikely to close due to its higher demand in comparison to Gosport. Other branches are further located in Portsmouth and Waterlooville, with both sites not listed in the announcement this weekend.

This announcement follows news that two national banks will be shutting down many branches over the next twelve months; Natwest closing twenty-three sites with Lloyds cutting forty of their own facilities. More details can be found on all bank closures, including Barclays, by visiting mainstream media sites such as BBC / Sky.

PICTURED BY ALAMY (FX5H63): A sign of change with Barclays announcing closure of its Gosport branch.