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Dozens protest against closure of town's final bank

Protesters holding signs that say 'stop and think Barclays'
The hour-long protest was held outside Barclays in Leiston

A protest has been held after Barclays announced plans to close one of its branches, leaving a town without a bank.

Dozens of residents in Leiston, Suffolk, said pensioners and people with disabilities would struggle to access physical banking services.

Barclays said it would close its branch on Main Street on 17 May as "the majority of people preferred to bank online".

Its nearest branch is 25 miles (40km) away in Lowestoft.

Dozens of protesters outside Barclays in Leiston
Children were among those that attended the rally

Julia Ewart, a customer at the bank and the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for the Suffolk Coastal constituency, organised the rally.

She said: "It's about people having a voice. You've seen how many people have turned up today because it matters to them.

"It doesn't matter how many letters they write, they're not being heard."

Local businessman David Silver, who owns a motorcycle spares company which employs about 25 people, also attended the rally.

He added: "I need access to large amounts of cash very quickly because if I want to go and buy a motorcycle some people will only accept cash.

"I don't think banks should just be allowed to close. It's like gas or water companies, they can't just turn off an area because it doesn't suit them."

David Silver holding a sign
Mr Silver insists he is not against internet banking

Barclays insisted only 64 customers used its Leiston branch and did not bank in other ways.

It said it did not intend to make redundancies as a result of the closure.

A spokesperson added: "In Leiston we plan to open a Barclays Local – a cashless banking site where customers can meet a colleague face-to-face for banking support, as they would in a branch and without the need to travel.

"We are currently working with the local community to identify a suitable location and will announce details once confirmed."

Research published last year by the consumer group Which? showed almost 6,000 UK bank branches had closed since January 2015 - a rate of around 54 each month.

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