CAMPAIGNERS FIGHTING to retain their Barclays Bank on Lees High Street have won a concession from a banking giant.
Barclays, who plan to close the branch this month, have agreed to leave an ATM at the site.
Locals and businesses were shocked when it was announced the branch is to close, leaving customers with an additional two-and-a-half-mile journey to facilities in Oldham town centre.
Concerned villagers protested outside the bank with placards last month to highlight their worries that the bank’s closure will rip the heart out of the community.
Oldham and Saddleworth Parish councillor Steve Hewitt and Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, met bank officials in bid to get them to charge their minds.
Cllr Hewitt said: “Working with our MP and after a lot of meaningful negotiations at different levels in their organisation, Barclays Bank have relented.
“They will now leave the ATM, which was going to be removed when the bank closed, where it is so people can still get access to their money.
“We will continue to talk and lobby shareholders and Barclays senior management to try every option to save the bank.
“This is the biggest blow that could have hit our village and their timings could not have had a more devastating effect on customers, residents and businesses in Lees.
“We are hoping their community spirit might kick in and the bank meet our demands.
“We hope they agree to our wishes and keep the bank open. However, the hole in the wall is a start in the right direction.”
Local businessman Robert Marshall of Springhead said: “This is a positive response from Barclays to keep the ATM machine operative from the same location.
“But I still maintain travelling into Oldham town centre is a difficult option and becomes even more disruptive over the Christmas period when all the car parking spaces are at a premium.”
“I still hope common sense will prevail and Barclays maintain this busy branch,” he added.
Debbie Abrahams MP said: “The Federation of Small Business has said small businesses, many of which deal in cash and cheques, face ‘tough challenges’ owing to the closure of bank branches.
“So while the retention of an ATM is a step in the right direction for those needing a convenient source of cash it doesn’t help those loyal customers who still need a local branch they can walk in to.”
A senior spokesman for Barclays said: “The Lees branch will definitely close on Friday November 25.
‘We will be retaining an ATM in the village and we have communicated this with the local MP.”