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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

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Fishguard: Traws Cymru bus destroyed in vehicle fire

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THE TRAWS CYMRU T5 Bus caught fire on Friday evening (May 17) in Fishguard, no passengers onboard.

According to local reports, only the driver was in the bus, which was on the way back to the depot.

The Herald understands that the driver got off safely.

Police and fire service were at the scene and the blaze was quickly extinguished.

Bus enthusiast Jim Horrissey said on Facebook: “The bus was Optare Tempo X1200 YJ56 WUG.

“It had finished it’s device on the T11 and was heading back to Fishguard when the fire started. Nobody was hurt, and only the driver was onboard.”

The 19 year old bus was formerly on service with the Norfolk Green Line, which is owned by Stagecoach before being put into general Statecoach service.

It was most recently operated by Richard Brothers.

According to their website, The TrawsCymru T5 provides a regular and direct service along the scenic Cambrian Coast, linking Aberystwyth, Aberaeron, New Quay, Cardigan, Fishguard and Haverfordwest.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Parked up: Bus before the fire

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Dementia Action Week

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LIBRARIES across the county will be supporting Dementia Action Week this month.

Dementia Action Week (20-26 May) aims to unite individuals, workplaces and communities to take action and improve the lives of people living with dementia.

“Unfortunately there are many people living with dementia in Pembrokeshire,” said Laura Evans, Library Development Officer.

“It is important that we do all we can to raise awareness of the condition and to help those people who are living with it.”

Reminiscence sessions will be the focus in some libraries, with members of the public invited to bring along old photographs of their local area to help people recall events, places or people.

Craft activities will be taking place to make ‘twiddle sheets’, that provide visual, tactile and sensory stimulation to people with dementia, with the finished sheets being donated to local groups and charities.

Libraries in Pembrokeshire offer a range of books about dementia, including the ‘Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia’ collection.

The collection, which has been recommended by experts and endorsed by well-known charities and health organisations, provides information and advice for living well after diagnosis, as well as personal stories and practical support.

Information on all Dementia Action Week events taking place at local libraries will be available from:

· www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/libraries-and-culture,
· on the Libraries Facebook page at www.facebook.com/PembrokeshireLibraryService
· or ask at your local library for details

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TPS scam alert issued

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PEMBROKESHIRE Trading Standards are warning local residents of a current telephone scam.

Callers claiming to be from the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) have been phoning residents asking them to pay for the service or to update their contact details.

In fact, the TPS is free – and it does not contact its customers to update their details.

“The TPS is the official service for people to register to opt out of receiving marketing phone calls to land and mobile telephones. It is free and once a phone number is registered, it remains on the list with no need for it to be updated,” said Sandra McSparron, Trading Standards Officer at Pembrokeshire County Council.

“If you have been contacted by phone asking you to pay for TPS services, or update your details, it is a scam.”

Pembrokeshire Trading Standards has also received a report of someone being phoned regarding national insurance fraud and asking for details of the person’s National Insurance number.

Trading Standards would advise people not to share this information with unknown callers.

· If you suspect a scam call, hang up and report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506 / 03454 040505 (Welsh Speaker).

· Registering your telephone number with the TPS can be done via their telephone number 0345 070 0707 or the website www.tpsonline.org.uk

· The Trading Standards Team offers talks to any groups in Pembrokeshire advising how to spot and avoid scams and what to do if you or someone you know is receiving these contacts. For further details please phone 01437 764551 or email tradingstandards@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

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