Bank closes 14 branches in shock announcement

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A raft of local Natwest branches are set to close after a shock announcement from the bank.

The four Fylde branches closing in June, 2017 are Kirkham, Fleetwood, Lytham and Poulton-le-Fylde.

Across Lancashire, 14 branches will close in total.

The bank states an increase in mobile and online users and a decline in branch users is the reason behind the “difficult decision”.

A Natwest spokesman said: “We are communicating with our customers affected by this decision and proactively contacting vulnerable and regular branch customers.

“We have listened closely to feedback from local communities and have extended the time between announcing our decision and the branch closure to six months.

“We have made the decision after careful consideration of a wide range of factors, including regular branch usage and the alternative ways our customers can bank with us.”

But councillors have criticised the decision, including Mike Barrowclough, deputy chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, who says the closure will hinder the town’s regeneration.

He said: “The town has a population of around 30,000 people and there will now only be three banks. Unfortunately, online and mobile banking just isn’t an option for many people and lots much prefer face-to-face banking.

“There is also lots of deprivation in the town meaning they don’t have access to a mobile phone or a computer.”

Natwest say the number of transactions in the Fleetwood branch has declined by 30% since 2011 and 48% of the customers of the branch are actively choosing to use online and or mobile banking.

The branch will close on June 8, 2017, meaning the nearest Natwest will be in Cleveleys, nearly four miles away.

“Lots of elderly people just can’t travel that far to use a bank,” Mr Barrowclough said. “Fleetwood is a town which is trying to regenerate its town centre and this closure isn’t going to help at all.

“Businesses won’t want to come here when people don’t have a reason to go into town.”

Kirkham’s branch will close on June 12, Lytham’s on June 5 and the Poulton-le- Fylde’s branch on June 21.