HAY residents have been shocked to discover that their last high street bank will soon be closing its doors.

A letter to Barclays account holders in the border town immediately caused concern – just as it did in places such as Kington and Presteigne which have found themselves in similar situations.

“Not everybody uses internet banking plus our internet access is quite slow – we are not city folk,” said Hay resident and business owner Belinda Jenkins.

“It will be a 30-mile round trip to visit a local branch and that is a fair chunk of someone’s day.

“They are suggesting we use the Post Office for cash and cheque deposits but that can take five days to clear, which is a long time if people are managing bills.

“Perhaps Powys County Council would consider offering the branch a rate reduction if it’s about running costs because it’s a benefit to the town to keep a bank open.

"Hay is down to two ATMs already, one at the Post Office and one at the Co-op and both are already busy.”

AM Kirsty Williams is seeking an urgent meeting with senior executives at Barclays Bank following the announcement that the bank would shut on September 28.

“This really is a kick in the teeth,” she said.

“While it is true that a lot more customers are moving to online banking, for some this is just not feasible.

"Also, many people still do not trust internet services and are concerned about the security of online systems.

“Although Post Offices can provide some of the services that the bank branches provide, it is not possible to discuss and arrange all personal or business loans and mortgages in a Post Office environment or to seek face-to-face financial advice.

“All these services are lost to local communities when bank branches close and local economies are damaged by the reduction in the number of people visiting our towns to use those banking services.”

The hours at town branches were cut a few years ago to half those in previous years which often leads to a self-fulfilling decline in footfall as customers are never sure if they will catch their bank open.

Hay Major Trudy Stedman said she is “very disappointed, as is everyone on the Town Council.”

She is looking to see what arrangements will be put in place but admitted it remains to be seen whether an alternative provision will be offered.

“Pushing everyone to use the Post Office just isn’t sustainable,” she said.

“I think the bank has overlooked the fact that Hay has a slightly older than average population who don’t feel comfortable banking online, as in fact a lot of younger people don’t either. I think it’s short-sighted.”

Barclays confirmed this week that its Knighton branch is also to close.