ANGRY councillors have started a petition to save a high street bank branch from closure.

Barclays will be closing the Great Tarpots branch in London Road, Benfleet on Friday, October 17.

Now, disgruntled residents and councillors are teaming up to save the branch after Barclays advised them to use the London Road Post Office for everyday banking.

The nearest Barclays branches in Pitsea or Hadleigh are two miles away.

Jackie Govier, councillor for St George’s ward, said: “I just can’t understand it. I’m concerned and I feel it is very shortsighted.

“A lot of elderly people use the branch and I know I’m not going to go to Pitsea and negotiate Sadlers Farm to domy banking.

“The one in Tarpots is often very busy and there have been many times when I have queued outside the door.

“Not everyone wants to do online banking and I don’t think closing the branch is the right thing to do. “ Mrs Govier and her fellow councillors will be collecting signatures calling on Barclays to reconsider the decision on Saturday afternoon in London Road.

Now concerns have been raised, if the branch does close, what will takes its place.

Mrs Govier said: “I believe in supporting local business and I like to use my local shops.

“If it does close, what would take it over? It’s in a premium spot.

“As councillors we feel it’s going to leave a hole in the street.

“We are trying to regenerate the area, but what is a high street without its bank?”

Tom Skipp, councillor for Appleton, added: “I think it is sad it is closing and I think it is a little premature.

“They are planning to close in October just as Aldi will be opening up and bringing more people to the area.

“We are appealing for them to rethink their decision.”

BARCLAYS says it will meet with councillors to explain the reasons for closing the Great Tarpots branch.

A Barclays spokesman said: “The way customers undertake their banking is changing as people increasingly use online, telephone and mobile devices. We must evolve our business to meet their needs.

“At the branch, around 65 per cent of customers now regularly use alternative branches, which is why we have taken the closure decision.

“Staff have been consulted and will be given the opportunity to work at a nearby branch “In addition to the option of online, telephone and mobile banking customers can undertake everyday transactions at the nearby Post Office in London Road, Benfleet.

“We are arranging a meeting in early August, so we can clearly set out our reasons for the closure and how we will be supporting customers who may find it more difficult to visit our other branches nearby.”