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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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Council’s cannon stolen from outside Cleddau Bridge Hotel

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A LARGE cannon has been stolen from the now closed Cleddau Bridge Hotel in Pembroke Dock in the last few days.

A local councillor and the police have appealed for information which will lead to the safe return of the gun.

Ward councillor Joshua Beynon said: “Dyfed-Powys Police have just telephoned me to say they are investigating the cannon that was stolen from the former Cleddau Bridge Hotel. It is believed to have gone missing sometime between the evening of Wednesday 20th March to the morning of Thursday 21st March.”

The police said in a statement: “If anyone has any information then can I urge you to call the police on 101 and quote the crime number: DPP/0064/21/03/2019/01/C as soon as possible.”

The cannon, one of two dug up from the ground at Hobbs Point and later restored, used to stand outside Llanion Park, the former offices of South Pembrokeshire District Council, which is now the head office of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The canon is the property of Pembrokeshire County Council and was given to the hotel on loan.

The hotel’s management neglected to make arrangements for its return to the local authority on closing down.

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How to get a refund for unused Cleddau Bridge tickets after April 1

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has announced details on how it plans to refund Cleddau Bridge users left with unused books of bridge tickets after it becomes toll-free.
From 1st April until 30th June refunds will be available from the Cleddau Bridge office itself and the North Wing Customer Service Centre in County Hall, Haverfordwest.
Refunds for all three classes of tickets will be available at the Cleddau Bridge office.

The classes are:

Class A blue-coloured tickets (for motorcycles)
Class B red tickets (cars and light commercial vehicles)
Class C orange tickets (HGVs).

Refunds at the office will be available round-the-clock from 12 noon on 1st April and will be paid – wherever possible – back to the original debit/credit cards up to a maximum of £150 with cash refunds up to £30.

Any refunds over £150 will be made by BACS transfer unless otherwise agreed in advance.

Only Class B red tickets will be refunded at the North Wing Customer Service Centre in Haverfordwest.

Here, refunds will be paid back to the original debit/credit card up to a maximum of £90 (ie three books of 50 tickets)

The maximum cash refund at this location will be £30 (ie one book of 50 tickets).

Refunds at the North Wing Customer Service Centre will be available weekdays between 9 am and 1 pm and 2 pm until 5 pm.

Organisations which have previously purchased tickets with a value exceeding £400 will be contacted during the week commencing Monday, 25th March with instructions on how to reclaim their refunds on an appointment basis at the Cleddau Bridge office.

The County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy, Paul Miller, said: “I am delighted to announce that bridge users who have unused tickets due to the cessation of tolls will be reimbursed and not find themselves out of pocket.”
Those who qualify for refunds are asked to wait a few days before making a claim so as to avoid a long wait. This particularly applies to refunds at the Cleddau Bridge office.

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Council issue ‘rave alert’ to farmers, landowners and local communities

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL and Dyfed-Powys Police are asking farmers, landowners and local communities to be on alert over the coming weekend (23rd and 24th March) for warning signs of any illegal raves planned for their land.

Any suspicious activity should be reported immediately to the police, especially if there are unusual numbers of vehicles – in particular, camper vans, vans or trucks – seen in the locality.

Illegal trespassers may recce sites in advance of any rave, or people may approach landowners and ask around for land, in the guise of hiring it for acceptable activities such as gymkhanas or scout camps.

Raves can cause anxiety to the community they are held in and, if not dealt with swiftly, are difficult to stop due to the sheer numbers of people involved. There is also a safety concern involved in breaking up such events.

Anyone with concerns should call Dyfed Powys Police on 101 and ask to speak to the Duty Sergeant or Duty Inspector at Haverfordwest Police Station.

Alternatively, please call Pembrokeshire County Council’s out-of-hours service on 01437 775522.

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