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