Being the last bank in town is a concern and responsibility for High Street financial institutions, so I was pleased to meet with representatives from Barclays Bank last week to hear about their plans for local banking in Shenfield.
Shenfield has the advantage of having a vibrant High Street with many independent traders, as well as having the benefits of the Elizabeth Line bringing new people to the area to live. But the only bank left on its High Street is now Barclays. The branch draws in custom not only from local residents, but also from Ingatestone, where the last bank in town closed some years ago, and further afield.
For this reason, the bank has included Shenfield in a pilot scheme it is running across ten branches in the UK where it will work with local communities to keep the last bank in town open. To this end, area manager Adam and local branch manager Alex are now doing their best to make the case for Barclays to stay in Shenfield on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis. This is a good challenge to the community – if we want services to stay in our high streets, if we want to keep our post offices, pubs, bakers, butchers and so on, we have to give them our business.
This work by Barclays means the Shenfield branch is safe for the next two or three years at least. I’ve been told its hours will change slightly – closing on Thursdays so it can open on Saturdays for those who leave the town for work before the bank opens and get home after it’s shut. There are some great plans to work with local businesses, schools and the library too, to promote new businesses, advise how to avoid being scammed and teach youngsters how to manage their money.
Having a bank in town brings in customers to all businesses and keeps the High Street alive. I’m glad Barclays have recognised this, and hope the work they’re doing in Shenfield benefits not only its banking business, but also the business and personal banking of so many of my constituents too.