Clos­ing bank ‘will hit most vul­ner­a­ble’

Caernarfon Herald - - NEWS -

THE clo­sure of a bank will leave cus­tomers fac­ing a 68-mile round trip to their near­est branch.

Royal Bank of Scot­land has an­nounced it’s ax­ing 62 RBS and 197 NatWest branches by mid 2018, with 1,000 jobs af­fected.

Among those to go – and the only one be­ing shut in North Wales – is the NatWest branch in Dol­gel­lau, forc­ing peo­ple to make a 34-mile, hour-long car jour­ney to Aberys­t­wyth. On public trans­port, the re­turn bus trip could take more than three hours.

Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meiri­on­nydd, Liz Sav­ille Roberts, has ac­cused NatWest of aban­don­ing loyal cus­tomers. “Bank­ing is one of the most ba­sic and im­por­tant ser­vices peo­ple rely on,” she said.

“I know how wor­ried peo­ple in Dol­gel­lau are that NatWest will close its branch in the town next year.

“It’s not good enough for the bank to ad­vise that all cus­tomers should move onto on­line bank­ing be­cause we all know that not ev­ery­body has ac­cess to a re­li­able in­ter­net con­nec­tion, par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral ar­eas.”

She said banks have a “so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to serve our com­mu­ni­ties”, adding: “Sadly this pic­ture is the same across North Wales, and the col­lapse in local bank­ing will again hurt the most vul­ner­a­ble.

“If they are clos­ing branches in towns the size of Dol­gel­lau, it begs the question what will hap­pen to banks in smaller com­mu­ni­ties. “Banks, as well as phar­ma­cies, post of­fices and other ser­vices, are im­por­tant to the vi­brancy of town cen­tres.” Ms Roberts said she has called for an ur­gent meet­ing with NatWest to dis­cuss this “short-sighted de­ci­sion”. RBS said: “We have taken the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to close the NatWest Dol­gel­lau branch on 4 June 2018. “Since 2012 we have seen the way in which peo­ple use NatWest Dol­gel­lau branch change dra­mat­i­cally, with now 84% of cus­tomers already bank­ing in other ways lo­cally. Trans­ac­tions in NatWest Dol­gel­lau branch have re­duced by 10% since 2012 with now only 42 cus­tomers vis­it­ing the branch on a weekly ba­sis.

“We are com­mu­ni­cat­ing with our cus­tomers af­fected by the clo­sure and proac­tively con­tact­ing vul­ner­a­ble cus­tomers and reg­u­lar branch users.

“We have ex­tended the time be­tween an­nounc­ing our de­ci­sion and the branch clo­sure to six months, so that we can en­sure our cus­tomers have enough time to con­sider the right bank­ing op­tions for them.

“We know that not all of our cus­tomers are com­fort­able or fa­mil­iar with us­ing on­line or mo­bile bank­ing, so we have cre­ated a spe­cial­ist task­force ded­i­cated to sup­port­ing our cus­tomers with train­ing and sup­port with dig­i­tal skills.”

Liz Sav­ille Roberts says ax­ing this bank is ‘short-sighted’

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