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Council should move custom away from Barclays due to branch closures

GWYNEDD Council should move its millions of pounds of custom away from Barclays bank, it has been suggested, after the high street giant decided to shut two branches in the county.

Last week saw Barclays Bank confirm it will be shutting both of its Caernarfon and Porthmadog branches in February, blaming falling footfall.

The move has been widely condemned by politicians in Gwynedd as well as an Early Day Motion in Parliament, leaving customers having to use the Bangor, Pwllheli or Dolgellau branches.

It caused a further social media storm on Thursday for responding to a Welsh language tweet by the deputy leader of Gwynedd Council, Dafydd Meurig, asking him to resend his message in English, claiming they couldn’t translate it.

But during the same day’s full council meeting, one Porthmadog councillor went as far as to suggest that Gwynedd Council should move its business away from Barclays in protest at the branch closures.

Cllr Nia Jeffreys, in a question to the economic development portfolio holder, accused the bank of “putting profit before people” and “letting down local high streets”.

She added: “Banc Cambria is being promoted by the Welsh Government, would that work as an idea for us in Gwynedd in order to retain high street services?

“Also, I understand that Gwynedd Council is a Barclays customer. So as the bank is turning its back on the people of Gwynedd, shouldn’t we do the same and move our business to another bank?”

Banc Cambria was recently set up as a co-operative, with the support of the Welsh Government, aiming to provide a Wales-wide banking service but owned and controlled by its membership rather than outside shareholders.

With plans to open branches in towns across the nation, Cllr Gareth Thomas said he was supportive of Banc Cambria and agreed that Wales was “being let down” by multinational banking groups.

“I’m a big believer in doing things for ourselves in our own country so I’m delighted to hear of Banc Cambria and very much hope it opens branches in our towns,” the council’s economic chief went on to say.

“In regards to Barclays I understand we are a customer and will discuss with the finance portfolio holder to see if we can leverage any pressure, but this authority also needs to consider transferring all our business to a bank like Cambria.”

On the decision to shut the Porthmadog and Caernarfon branches, a Barclays spokesperson said: “The decision to close a branch is never an easy one. However, customers are increasingly using alternatives to branches to do their banking. As a result, we are seeing a sustained fall in branch visits across the UK.

“This is reflected at the Porthmadog branch where there has been a 13 per cent reduction in counter transactions in the two years to March 2020. In addition, 81 per cent of our customers at the branch are also using different ways to bank.

“This is reflected at the Caernarfon branch where there has been a 26 per cent reduction in counter transactions in the two years to March 2020. In addition, 81 per cent of our customers at the branch are also using different ways to bank.

“We will work with our customers and provide alternative options to ensure they can continue to manage their money and receive financial expertise when required.”

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