THERE is a new man in charge of Barclays Business in Basingstoke – and he is looking forward to a busy and successful 2014.

Martin Bonner, who has 34 years experience working for Barclays, is the new head of Barclays Business for Southern region, which incorporates Thames Valley, and will lead a 180-strong team supporting businesses with a turnover of up to |£5million.

Martin said: “It’s an exciting time to be taking up the helm and being responsible for working along-side customers who have been operating in unprec-edented levels of change over the last few years.

“Despite the perception around banks lending we have business managers located in branches across the region, who are seeking to fund viable business propositions from firms looking for finance.

“We’re continuing to look at ways to boost lending both in the region and across the UK.”

Barclays is fully involved in Government schemes such as the National Loan Guarantee Scheme and the Funding for Lending Scheme and was the leading provider of such loans in 2012.

“But it’s not just about access to funding. In real-ity only one in five SMEs are borrowing as they continue to deleverage and increase capital,” said Martin. “It’s also about building relationships to support businesses as the economy improves, whatever their sector, industry or size, to take the next step for their business as confidence returns to the market.”

Martin added: “Entrepreneurship appears to be vibrant and thriving in Basingstoke and the Thames Valley area and we’re experiencing record numbers of fledgling businesses getting off the ground as a result.

“Nationally one new start-up business opens an account with us every minute and these start-ups, as well as more established enterprises, have been taking advantage of our free programme of ‘clinics’ offering insight to exporting, managing cashflow and access to funding across the region.

“While the climate for SMEs remains challenging at Barclays we’re determined to be the go-to bank for business and I’m looking forward to meeting as many customers and business organisations to hear first-hand how Barclays can continue to add value and support local businesses both now and in the long term.”