Until quite recently Rye High Street was fortunate enough to have four of the Big Five banks (HSBC, National Westminster, Lloyds and Barclays). By the end of the year it seems that there will only be Barclays Bank left. The only alternative is the Nationwide Building Society which, although a useful bank for the public, has limited facilities for small businesses and traders.
We contacted Barclays earlier this year about the state of their building which led some to fear closure. Following our discussions with their head office the Bank frontage has been renovated and now looks much improved. At the time of the discussion we were told that there were no plans to close the branch, this remains the case and maybe Barclays will pick up extra business from the others closing. However the local shops and businesses are concerned as the closures make it increasingly difficult to pay in cash and cheques at the end of the trading day or week. Also many elderly customers rely on their bank for financial advice and transactions and are not willing or able to do all their finances on line.
The Town Council have written to the Banks expressing their concern at the situation but it is unlikely that there will be any change to their plans. It is also of concern as to what will become of the buildings. Some people feel that they should remain as offices providing much needed employment for Rye people. It is probable that they will remain empty if HSBC is anything to go by. There are new cash points at Jempsons, and possibly fewer people will be parking to get their money at the corner of West Street and High Street but these are small consolations for both residents and tourists.