A branch of NatWest earmarked for closure earlier this month has been given a short reprieve after a storm of protest.
NatWest originally planned to shut the doors of its branch in Meads village at the start of August because of a decline in the number of customers and changes to the way customers accessed banking services. But it has now agreed to postpone it until mid-September.
The news follows a campaign by local residents and a several hundred strong petition which has been presented to bank officials.
Meads councillor Caroline Ansell said, “We were concerned on several levels. While respecting business decisions, we are always going to be concerned to see services leave Meads Street. I’m concerned we don’t leave people behind in this fast moving digital age.
“It’s also important we safeguard conventional communication along the way. That means over the counter services in this instance.”
Meads Community Association chairman Dennis Scard said the organisation was not aware of any agreement as yet between the bank and the post office to provide banking services for NatWest customers.
“Meads Street Post Office concession is sited in the Co-Op, in constrained space and while NatWest states it is in discussions with the post office to provide banking services for NatWest customers, we are reliably informed nothing yet has been agreed,” said Mr Scard.
“From the start, we told the regional CEO that we would be raising a petition calling for much stronger arrangements around this proposal. NatWest has already postponed the branch closure in light of our concerns and we will look for a further postponement if, by September 16, one has not been reached with the post office.”
A Natwest spokesperson said, “It’s never an easy decision to close a branch but the number of customers using the Meads branch dropped by nearly a fifth since 2011 as more people use alternative ways of banking with us. We’re working to ensure as little disruption as possible for our customers and have reached an agreement with the Post Office that allows our customers to use some facilities free of charge.”