Friday, 28 February 2020

Barclays Bank in Mill Hill Broadway to close

Letter received this morning
This morning I received news that my local branch of Barclays Bank in Mill Hill Broadway is to close on ,June 5th. Barclays was the last of the big four banks to maintain a presence in Mill Hill. This presents a major issue for us. The Mill Hill Music Festival switched its account from Lloyds to Barclays when the Lloyds branch closed. When the Mill Hill Music Festival is running, a local bank is essential for the purposes of paying in and out money. We also use the bank regularly for foreign exchange and other money related matters. I am quite frankly astounded that Barclays have taken this action. The branch is always busy and there is regularly a queue when carrying out banking transactions.

There is a myth that bank branches are not used, old fashioned and out of date. If like me you run a business and community events that deal in cash, a bank is essential. Barclays have been supportive of the Mill Hill Music Festival with donations, needless to say this will all now stop. We understand that banks are commercial entities and that they have to manage their finances. As a business, we have had to change the way we operate and we have had to diversify etc. For my business, a music studio, this has been done by trying to make ourselves more responsive and reactive to our customers and providing a better service. For Barclays and the other banks, the opposite seems to be true. Their response to every cost challenge is to cut services and make the lives of their customers more difficult. I seriously wonder whether a bank that bucked the trend, opened new outlets on High Streets (or downsized outlets combining with other businesses to share premises) would be a very attractive option. Barclays is probably the oldest business on Mill Hill Broadway and their departure is yet another nail in the coffin of the Broadway as a successful High Street. Closed down banks has become a feature of the Broadway over the last few years, and of all the sites, Barclays is the best located, being in the triangle between the East bound bus stop, the Station and Marks and Spencers. It would undoubtedly make a fine bar or restaurant location, but where would any new business pay their cash takings in. Keeping cash on premises is dangerous, and a trip to Edgware, Hendon or Kingsbury (the suggested other locations) would take a staff member (or two for safety if paying in large cash amounts) an hour a day + parking charges. Assuming two staff at £10 per hour six days a week, that is £120 a week or £6,000 a year extra cost just to pay in daily cash takings. I don't know many businesses that can carry that cost, and that is without mileage and parking.

Barnet Council needs to get creative. Surely we need joint planning categories. A bar/cafe/bank venue (with a smaller banking counter) may well be a way forward. Whatever happens, June 5th will be a very sad day for Mill Hill and its businesses.

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