NatWest closure plan slammed by Norman Baker

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THE PLAN to close the NatWest branch in Newhaven was met with opposition from Newhaven MP Norman Baker.

He has written to RBS Group chief executive Stephen Hester asking him to reverse the decision.

The MP has also written to Business Minister Mark Prisk MP to ask that he looks at this case.

The NatWest branch is scheduled to close in March, with the bank citing low demand.

He said closing would affect the elderly and small businesses, who will now have to go to Peacehaven or Seaford to speak to an advisor face-to-face.

Mr Baker said: “With Barclays being closed, NatWest’s decision to close its branch is a further bitter blow, and I really do question its decision. The people of Newhaven have not taken this lightly and there is no doubt that it will damage whatever reputation NatWest and its parent group RBS has. It is ridiculous to expect the elderly and local businesses to take a six mile round trip to speak to an advisor face-to-face.

“I also believe that this is a poor commercial decision. Plans for regenerating Newhaven are gaining significant momentum following the high level stakeholder meeting that took place last month and if NatWest pulls out now it will see no benefit from the plans.”

NatWest said it would be inappropriate comment when it had not received the letters.

However in a statement previously issued, a spokesperson for NatWest said: “Closing a branch is not a decision we take lightly, however demand for our service at Newhaven has been falling for some time. Many customers are now choosing alternative ways of banking, such as 24 hour online and telephone services and our smartphone banking app. We are committed to keeping an ATM in Newhaven and customers can also access their money at the Post Office in Newhaven or any other Post Office branch, as well as at another 50 ATMs within around six miles.”