Politicians wade in on NatWest’s decision to close Shotton bank branch
Two members of the Welsh Parliament have slammed NatWest’s decision to close its Shotton high street bank later this year, and have called for the decision to be reversed.
Earlier this week, the banking giant announced it was closing an additional 34 branches in the UK, including its branch in Shotton, citing a shift in customer banking behaviour.
The bank said Shotton observed a 55% decrease in counter transactions for personal customers at this branch between 2019 and 2023.
Additionally, 64% of the branch’s personal customers in 2022 were also using online or mobile banking services, and the branch was regularly visited by only nine personal customers and 136 business customers in the same year.
Shotton residents will now have to travel to Mold to find the nearest NatWest branch.
NatWest emphasised that decisions like these are made after considering various factors, such as the frequency of branch usage, customer preferences, and the proximity to other banking services.
Llyr Gruffydd, of Plaid Cymru, who represents North Wales in the Senedd, has called on the banking group to “rethink” the decision to axe the branch which will close on November 9 this year.
He said: “I am dismayed by the decision by NatWest to close its branch on Shotton high street.
“This is an enormous blow to the local community, and to the businesses and the residents who rely on the high street branch to access vital banking services.
“I would urge NatWest to rethink this shortsighted decision which will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the people of the area.”
“Sadly we’re seeing more and more communities across Wales becoming financial deserts, where accessing financial services is fast becoming something of a luxury.”
He said: “This closure will be a cause of real concern for customers, especially those who can’t do their banking online.”
“Whatever the bank says, this move will almost certainly lead to those who struggle with accessing digital services being left behind.”
“It’s no wonder that there is a widespread feeling of disillusionment with the banks as they abandon our communities and abdicate their responsibility to them.”
Alyn and Deeside MS Jack Sargeant have written to Nat West with his concerns over the closure “without any conversation with the community.”
In his letter, he said the decision to close the Shotton branch is “deeply disappointing. It will have a real impact on Shotton and I would like to ask you to reconsider it.”
“As you will be aware, there is considerable evidence that bank branches have not been closed because the bank is losing money, but there is a desire to make more at the expense of loyal customers in towns like Shotton.”
“The closure will have a real impact on businesses and residents alike, and the viability of Shotton high street.”
“NatWest should be looking to work with its customers and not make these decisions to take services away from them without consulting them first.”
“There is evidence that online services do not fully replace high street services, and this is particularly the case for more vulnerable and older customers.”
“Once again, I would like to ask you to reverse this decision and keep NatWest in Shotton open.”
Commenting on Deeside.com’s Facebook page about NatWest’s announcement,
Callum said: “Maybe a decrease in 55% is due to the fact the bank was closed at weekends during and after Covid when most people who work use the bank at weekends?? Time to change banks!”
Julie said they had moved to Natwest as “Barclays closed all local branches, now they’re doing the same! I feel sorry for the older cash generation that don’t have the Internet. Mold is closest now. I will lose at least an hour travelling to do my work’s banking now.”
Margaret said the decision was, “disgusting, I don’t do online banking.”
Angela added, “with reference to post office services. There isn’t a post office in Shotton. Customers should vote with their feet.”
Mike commented: “Another nail in what was once such a vibrant shopping town, modern progress again not taking account of the human face-to-face contact which is so important to lots of people, not just the elderly.”
Debby added: “The period they noticed a 55% reduction in counter transactions covers when we were in lockdown and couldn’t physically use the bank. The bus service is useless, not everybody drives and some services the bank offers have to be transacted in person.”
Ahead of the branch closure, NatWest plans to host a “Supporting you through our Branch Closure” event.
This event aims to educate customers on identifying the appropriate local banking services.
Following the closure, the bank intends to establish a community pop-up site where a local NatWest representative will be available for face-to-face discussions regarding everyday banking needs.
This includes support in setting up and using digital services, advice on making cash-based transactions at the local Post Office, and guidance on protecting oneself from fraud and scams.
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