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Barclays branches in Milford Haven, Pembroke and Narberth will all close soon

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THREE of the five remaining Barclays Bank branches in Pembrokeshire will be closing in the coming months The Pembrokeshire Herald has learned.

Following a tip off from an employee at a local branch, the bank officially confirmed to this newspaper on Thursday (Mar 14) that Narberth branch will be closing its doors for the final time on June 28, Pembroke branch will be closing on July 5, and Milford Haven branch will be closing on July 12. St Davids branch has already closed.

Barclays Bank PLC, which made £1.5bn profit last year, is closing around half of its UK branches a cost cutting measure. In a stark warning, Antony Jenkins, ex-boss of Barclays, said last year that 3,500 of the UK’s 7,000 branches are at risk.

Jobs are being axed as more people bank online and office tasks are automated.

Stephanie Dibble, Barclays Community Banking Director for our area said: “The way customers undertake their banking is changing as people increasingly use online, telephone and mobile devices.”

At the Pembrokeshire branches Barclays have decided to close, customer usage has continued to decline, the bank argues.

Milford Haven branch usage declined 14% in the last 24 months, Narberth declined 10% and Pembroke branch usage declined by 19% in the same period, said Barclays.

“This is why we have taken the difficult decision to close them,” Stephanie Dibble added.

She said: “We hope that the availability of our other branches at Barclays Haverfordwest, Barclays Tenby and access to banking services at the local Post Office currently located at 55 Charles Street, Milford Haven, along with our range of digital channels will help to ease the transition for our customers.”

Speaking exclusively to The Herald, Stephen Crabb MP said: “The decision by Barclays to shut down three more of its branches in Pembrokeshire is another bitter blow and will undermine efforts to improve our local town centres.

“All across the UK branches are closing as people continue to move to online banking and, as I have warned before, we now face a serious risk that large swathes of the country will become bank deserts.

“Although it is true that internet and telephone banking have led to a huge decline in the number of regular visits to bank branches, solutions need to be found for those who still need a face-to-face service or those who do not have good access to the internet.

Stephen Crabb has asked Barclays to reconsider their decision due to the negative impact it will have on Pembrokeshire.

Stephen Crabb said: “I have requested a meeting with Barclays to ask them to think again about their plans. Barclays has traditionally been a good employer in Pembrokeshire. I want them to understand they have wider obligations to our local communities.”

Simon hart MP told The Herald that he had spoken to Barclays Bank and obtained reassurances about the fate of Narberth branch as recently as a few months ago.

Mr Hart said; “I was given reassurance by management that they would keep the Narberth branch open for at least six months, but they would not be able to give promises further than that. But it seems they have either reneged on that.”

Plaid Cymru AM Leanne Wood described Barclays closures in general as part of a “worrying trend”.

UK Finance, which represents banks, insisted that branches were only closed as a last resort.

A spokesman said: ‘Bank branch visits have fallen by a quarter since 2012 with the development of new technology. All major banks offer day-to-day banking services through 11,500 Post Office branches.’

In Milford Haven, the other three big banks have already left town with HSBC, Lloyds and Natwest already having closed. With Barclays Bank shutting there will not be a single bank left on Hamilton Terrace.

LAST BANK IN TOWN SHUTS

Simon Hart MP says he is dismayed that Narberth is to lose its last remaining bank. Barclays has announced that its St James Street branch is closing at the end of June, following the previous closures of HSBC and NatWest in the town.

“This is very sad news for Narberth, despite all their reassurances Barclays is now leaving the town with no bank branches at all,” he said.
“I met Barclays bosses a year ago and they spelled out their commitment to community banking and told me there were no immediate plans to close local branches. It is very frustrating that high street banks appear to be saying one thing and then doing another.

“I appreciate that using an on-line banking app is an alternative option but many elderly customers do not have mobile phones. There is also the problem that you are only able to pay in cheques with a value of up to £500 and we have a lot of self-employed business people down here who need to pay in larger amounts.”

Mr Hart lives near Narberth and is a regular user of the branch.

He added: “Thanks to the enterprising traders in Narberth we do now have a Post Office branch on the High Street in the Costcutter which can be used for banking and we also have a cashpoint in the Spar opposite.

“It seems like the small independent traders are having to fill in the gaps being left behind by the big banks.”

Video From Which? on Bank Branch Closures

Health

Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin

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POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

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Tenby’s famous walrus ‘Wally’ has been spotted again

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TENBY’S most famous marine animal has been spotted again after fears she had been scared away.

Wally was spotted on Friday evening by the seaside town’s Lifeboat station.

Thought to be a two-year-old male, the walrus’s return comes after it was feared she had been disturbed by people flocking to catch a glimpse of her and “getting too close”

The animal has attracted hundreds of people to the seaside town now that the travel restrictions with Wales have been lifted to coincide with the Easter school holidays.

Wally was last seen on Monday, but  members of the public were warned it was in the animal’s “best interests” to be “left alone” as much as possible and they were urged to “avoid the temptation to get near and disturb” her.

A joint statement was issued by the RSPCA, Tenby harbour master Chris Salisbury, Welsh Marine Life Rescue, Tenby lifeboat coxswain Phil John, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Natural Resources Wales and CSIP Marine Environmental Rescue said that they were concerned to hear that people had tried to get close by using personal watercraft or paddle and surfboards.

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Police plan to deter badly behaved youths from gathering in Tenby

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POLICE in Tenby responded to community concerns over antisocial behaviour and groups of between 15-20 youths gathering and clashing over the Easter bank holiday weekend. They moved the youths on, seized alcohol from them and stopped matters escalating when there were clashes between the groups. And they have a clear message ahead of this weekend – there will be extra police patrols and presence in Tenby, including on the trains, so this type of behaviour won’t be tolerated.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers used powers under the Antisocial Behaviour Act to disperse groups of youngsters meeting to drink alcohol in and around Tenby, many of whom had travelled by train to the area to meet up.

Based on these scenes from last weekend, plans are in place as part of a joint operation with Pembrokeshire County Council licensing officers and British Transport Police, to address and prevent any further gatherings.

A Section 34 Order is in place covering Tenby, which allows officers to move people out of the area and prevent them from returning for up to 48 hours.

Sergeant Stuart Wheeler said: “Following last weekend we had some concern from the community of Tenby, due to antisocial behaviour related to the groups of youths from Pembroke, Pembroke Dock and Tenby, and subsequently those groups clashing. Alcohol consumption by these youngsters was a factor.

“Proactive action was taken, and we are keen to avoid a repeat of this behaviour this weekend, and have therefore put plans in place. Additional resources have been allocated, which will allow us to respond quickly and prevent matters from escalating.

“Tenby Neighbourhood Policing Team and response officers, will be carrying out high visibility patrols in the area, covering areas known to be popular with youngsters. Pembrokeshire County Council licensing officers will be assisting us in ensuring youngsters can’t buy alcohol in the area by visiting shops and reminding them of the laws around selling alcohol, and if they bring it with them it will be seized. And our colleagues in British Transport Police will be patrolling the train network to prevent problematic groups getting to Tenby by train.”

Police are also appealing to parents and carers to know where their children are, and what they are doing.

Sergeant Wheeler added: “We would like to appeal directly to parents to be aware of where their children are, and prevent them from gathering in large groups. This type of behaviour is distressing for people living and working in Tenby, and we are urging you to be accountable for your children’s actions.

“We understand that the past few months have been difficult, and that children want to see their friends, but remember that only 6 people from 2 households can meet outdoors still. Please do your best to ensure they are adhering to regulations that are in place for all our safety.”

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