Closing bank ‘will hit most vulnerable’
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’