Bank has shut its doors

Cynon Valley - - FRONT PAGE - TOM HOUGHTON tom.houghton@waleson­line.co.uk

BANK­ING gi­ant NatWest has con­firmed there will now be a lim­ited “mo­bile” ser­vice in Aberdare after its branch in the town closed its doors for the fi­nal time last week.

NATWEST has closed its doors for the fi­nal time in Aberdare, but the bank has said there will now be a lim­ited “mo­bile” ser­vice in the town.

It comes after the branch on Vic­to­ria Square re­duced open­ing hours in 2016 be­fore an­nounc­ing in March this year its full clo­sure.

The mo­bile ser­vice – a ‘Bank on Wheels’ – was se­cured after Cynon Val­ley AM Vikki How­ells, pic­tured, met NatWest rep­re­sen­ta­tives back in April.

Ac­cord­ing to Ms How­ells, NatWest gave her two as­sur­ances: firstly, the bank would be re­placed by a mo­bile ser­vice, with the time frame in­creased if there is enough de­mand, and that as a “good­will ges­ture”, a mo­bile bank­ing stop in Hir­waun would also be cre­ated with a six­month du­ra­tion, and de­mand mon­i­tored.

It was also agreed that if NatWest could not sell the build­ing within six months, they would ex­plore how they can put it “to best pos­si­ble com­mu­nity use”.

Ms How­ells said: “It is dis­ap­point­ing that banks choose to re­ward the loyal cus­tomers who have sup­ported them for so long by just clos­ing and leav­ing them in the lurch. What makes this de­ci­sion even more galling is that re­as­sur­ances were given when open­ing hours were re­duced that the branch would stay open.

“It seems re­duc­ing open­ing hours is the first step to branch clo­sure.

“The last thing any­body wants is an empty town cen­tre build­ing. I am pleased with the com­mit­ment from NatWest that if they can­not sell the build­ing within six months, they will see how they can put it to the use of res­i­dents.”

Ms How­ells said she was told the mo­bile bank would be in place from 12.30pm un­til 1.30pm on a Fri­day in Aberdare, and that would be dou­bled to two hours if de­mand was suf­fi­cient, although in­for­ma­tion was not given about the ex­act lo­ca­tion of that ser­vice.

In ad­di­tion, Ms How­ells was promised they would add a stop in Hir­waun. There was a mo­bile bank­ing ser­vice for NatWest in the vil­lage pre­vi­ously, but this stopped due to low use, and Ms How­ells sug­gested that was be­cause it was on the wrong day – when the li­brary wasn’t open. The Hir­waun stop was a good­will ges­ture by the bank and will ini­tially last for six months.

When it an­nounced the clo­sure in March, the bank said be­tween 2010 and 2015, mo­bile and on­line trans­ac­tions have in­creased by over 400% and mo­bile trans­ac­tions alone have in­creased by 1,350%.

The other out­lets in Wales to close in­clude NatWest branches in Ystrad My­nach, Ebbw Vale, Mon­mouth and Pon­ty­pool.

A spokesper­son from RBS said: “We have seen a dra­matic shift in the way cus­tomers are choos­ing to bank, with more us­ing mo­bile and on­line over tra­di­tional branch coun­ters.

“Sim­ple trans­ac­tions un­der­taken in branch at NatWest and Royal Bank of Scot­land have fallen by 43% since 2010, while on­line and mo­bile trans­ac­tions have in­creased by more than 400%.

“Since 2011 we have seen the num­ber of trans­ac­tions in the Aberdare branch de­cline by 31% and in Ystrad My­nach by 26%.

“These cus­tomers are choos­ing to bank in dif­fer­ent ways, with 62.4% of cus­tomers of the Aberdare branch choos­ing to use our dig­i­tal bank­ing op­tions.”

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NatWest’s Aberdare branch on Vic­to­ria Square has closed its doors for the last time

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