Neston has been let down by multinational banking and financial services giant Barclays, say local politicians.
The closure of the high street branch, the last bank standing in the market town, was revealed by the AboutMyArea Neston online news site.
It disclosed Barclays was to pull out in the autumn following NatWest in 2015 and HSBC last year. The area has a population of more than 15,000.
The last day of trading as the tills close for the final time will be Friday, October 20 with the bank citing pressures from the changing banking habits of customers.
Branch manager Mike Pover told AboutMyArea: “The way customers undertake their banking is changing as people increasingly use online, telephone and mobile devices.
“At Barclays Neston branch customer usage has continued to decline in recent years which is why we have taken the difficult decision to close it.
“We hope that the availability of our other Barclays branch at 26 Pensby Road, Heswall and access to services at the local Post Office located at 7 High Street, Neston, along with our range of digital channels, will help to ease the transition for our customers.”
Justin Madders (Lab), MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, said at the time: “I’m incredibly disappointed with the contempt shown for the people of Neston once again by the big banks.
“I will be calling on them all to come together to see if we can get some kind of shared facility in the town which would undoubtedly be used.”
Mr Madders, along with Little Neston and Burton borough councillor Louise Gittins (Lab), deputy leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, have now expressed their disappointment after a meeting with Barclays which did not lead to any concessions from the banking giant.
They point out that when Barclays closes its doors, Neston will be left without any banking facilities, something they claim could harm local businesses as well as isolating older people who are unable to use online banking.
The cash point will also be removed when the branch closes despite concern being expressed by a number of local residents.
Cllr Gittins said: “While the representatives from Barclays appreciated the difficulties that their existing customers could face in getting to the next-nearest facility in Heswall, their only solution was using internet banking or the Post Office.
“We responded that not everyone is able to access internet banking and that while the Post Office provides an excellent service it does not offer a full banking service and already has very large queues at peak times.
“Barclays told us that there are 188 customers who only bank there in person and I am told that they are being contacted to arrange a face to face chat about the opportunity for ‘tea and training’ on how to use online banking.”
She added: “However, after the meeting Justin and I had a walk around the market where we met a Barclays customer who had not yet contacted.
“If you are a customer I would advise you to contact the branch if you would like to access their online banking training.”
The MP said: “During the meeting we suggested that Barclays explore the idea of creating some sort of banking hub where banks worked together to provide a joint facility as I understand that this has been achieved elsewhere.
“The Barclays team did agree to look into this; however, I’m not optimistic that progress will be made.
“It was clear throughout the meeting that Barclays were only paying lip service to our suggestions and were not going to change their decision.
“Most frustratingly they wouldn’t even confirm if the branch was losing money which rather suggested to me that their primary motivation was increasing profit rather than providing a service to customers.
“Neston has been badly let down by the big banks and local people are right to be disappointed.”
Following the initial announcement, Andrew McLoughlin, vice chairman of Neston and District Chamber of Trade, commented: “We are naturally very disappointed to hear the news that Neston will no longer have a bank in town.
“We are aware of the difficulties this presents particularly to small businesses, the elderly and those without their own transport to access branches in other towns.
“It is true that people’s banking habits have changed but as the chamber’s chairman David Clarke said at the time of the NatWest closure it is surely not beyond the main banks, collectively, to find a way to introduce banking hubs into towns such as Neston.
“They should be finding creative ways of ensuring all their customers have access to all banking services.”
Town councillor and Parkgate ward borough councillor Martin Barker (Ind) said: “This is extremely disappointing news given the assurances from Barclays after the closure of HSBC.
“Despite the changing habits of banking, customers still like the one to one contact, especially if they find online banking difficult.
“Maybe mobile bank units could be used as is the case in other market towns, even if it was only for one day per week.”
The mayor of Neston, Pat Kynaston, told AboutMyArea: “Neston Town Council is aware that we have no direct influence on commercial decisions made by Barclays Bank but the lack of consideration to customers, many of whom do not have easy access to other branches, is a sad reflection of increasing market driven decisions over people.
“Cllr Barker’s suggestion of mobile banking is excellent and I hope, as the ‘last bank standing’, Barclays will give this serious consideration.”
Barclays is said to be adhering to Government protocol on closures.