Emsworth seeking a NatWest rethink

The NatWest in Emsworth
The NatWest in Emsworth

The people of Emsworth want NatWest to think again after the closure of the town’s last bank was announced.

In a few days, more than 400 have signed an online petition opposing the move.

Critics say the bank has a duty to customers, especially those who switched to NatWest after the town’s second-last bank, Barclays, closed last year.

NatWest plans to close its branch on Emsworth High Street on June 7, 2017.

Giles Babb, chairman of Emsworth Business Association, said: “It’s a bit of a blow having lost the other banks and worked hard with NatWest to keep the area sustainable for businesses.

“There are a lot of businesses needing services you can’t access online.

“The whole local economy could be affected by this.”

The protest petition at change.org says that after Barclays closed, local businesses were told NatWest would stay in the town if people switched.

But NatWest told the Observer: “We never made a commitment never to close.”

The bank says the ‘difficult decision’ to shut follows a huge rise in numbers of mobile and online transactions between 2010 and 2015.

A spokesman said: the number of transactions in the Emsworth branch had declined by 31 per cent since 2011, and 52 per cent of its customers were choosing to use online or mobile banking for their day-to-day needs.

Havant MP Alan Mak has written to NatWest’s chief executive asking him to reconsider the action.

The Observer asked NatWest officials further questions about the planned closure and the spokesman said he couldn’t comment on whether any consultation was carried out before the closure was announced.

He said a mobile branch would visit Emsworth for two hours weekly after the closure and a digital expert had been introduced to help customers not confident in using online and phone banking services.

The spokesman said the bank had met MP Mr Mak to discuss the closure.

What’s your view? Can Emsworth folf really force a NatWest rethink? Did you switch to NatWest after it was left as Emsworth’s only bank? Email steve.bone@chiobserver.co.uk

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