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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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Appeal after woman sexually assaulted on cycle path near Haverfordwest

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POLICE officers in Haverfordwest are appealing for witnesses after a woman was sexually assaulted at approximately 4.30pm on Sunday (May 16).

The woman was walking along the cycle path between Haverfordwest and Tiers Cross when she was approached by a man who threatened and assaulted her, before walking away towards Haverfordwest town.

The male is described as a white male, between 5ft 4 and 5ft 11 tall , normal build with a welsh accent. He has short dark hair, a beard and a moustache, brown eyes, and wearing light blue jeans, navy/dark blue jersey with grey sleeves. Anyone who saw a man matching this description in the area between 3.30pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested and is currently in police custody.

The cycle path is currently closed while the investigation continues.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, who is leading the investigation, said “Incidents of this nature are extremely rare in the Dyfed-Powys area. The public may see an increased presence of police officers in the coming days as police investigate the incident. Anyone with concerns or information that could help our enquiries can speak to those officers or contact police. While a man was quickly arrested we would still like to speak to anyone who saw a man matching the above description in the area yesterday afternoon.”

Anyone with information which could help the investigation is asked to contact police. This can be done online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet endorses STEP Fusion application

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Cabinet have today endorsed proposals from Cllr Paul Miller (Cabinet Member for Economic Development) to further progress the nomination of a Pembrokeshire site to host a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) fusion power station in the county.

Working with the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the proposed site is adjacent to the existing energy facilities on the South Shore of the Haven waterway.

If approved, the facility will initially host research with the ultimate aim of developing this technology which could offer a virtually limitless source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic Development said: “I am pleased my Cabinet colleagues endorsed this important programme of work. The Haven Waterway has provided livelihoods, underpinned by fossil fuels, for thousands of Pembrokeshire families, mine included, for more than 50 years. It’s my job to help ensure the waterway continues to provide high skilled, engineering, science and technology jobs for the next generation of this county – and so linked to our focus on climate change (and in addition to our existing multi-million pound commitments to supporting wind, wave and tidal clean power generation) my team have been exploring whether we can also support the development of clean, green fusion technology.

“It’s very early days in the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s site selection process but we’ll provide regular updates as things progress.”

•       STEP is an ambitious programme to design and build a prototype fusion power plant;
•       It is a UKAEA programme, currently with £222m funding from the UK Government to produce a concept design by 2024: https://step.ukaea.uk/

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Re-opening of indoor hospitality and attractions at Milford Waterfront

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RESTAURANTS and indoor visitor attractions in Milford Waterfront are welcoming the return of indoor services from today.

The re-opening of indoor dining allows all restaurants at Milford Waterfront to seat customers indoors. As well as all restaurants on the Waterfront now being able to offer this service, the brand-new Foam Domes overlooking the Milford Haven Waterway are able to open, with bookings being taken from the 19th May.

Indoor visitor attractions are also allowed to re-open. This includes the Waterfront Gallery, which is open today and Phoenix Bowl & Pirate Pete’s Adventure Play which is making preparations to open from Wednesday 19th May. Also, Milford Museum, which has had a new rendered exterior finish, is preparing to open for the end of May.

Lucy Wonnacott, Marketing Manager for Milford Waterfront commented: “We are delighted to see the re-opening of indoor hospitality and visitor attractions here at Milford Waterfront. Each business has their own safety and social distancing measures in place and we kindly ask that you respect and adhere to these for your own safety, and that of others. We hope you enjoy your visit to Milford Waterfront and stay safe!”

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