Customers’ dismay at bid to shut down banks

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A bank’s plans to shut four branches will have a severe effect on customers and businesses, it has been claimed.

NatWest is to close its operations in Lytham, Fleetwood, Poulton and Kirkham in June.

The closures are part of a schedule to shut 14 branches across the country.

Around seven jobs are set to go locally.

At the Lytham branch two jobs are under threat, in Fleetwood one role could be lost and at Kirkham and Poulton two roles each are under threat.

Denize Ashton, chairwoman of the Lytham Enterprise Partnership group of traders said: “This will severely impact business and personal customers who will have to travel further afield, change banks, or do online banking.

“Not everyone, particularly our older population and some traditionalists, want to do that.

“I appreciate times are tough for some of the large banks, but it does make me wonder how much they value or listen to their long-standing customers.

“To be successful, a town needs to be a well-balanced mixture of businesses and establishments to meet the needs of the locals, and I fear we are moving away from that.”

Robert Brown, a stall holder at Fleetwood Market, said: “It’s very bad news for Fleetwood on several fronts. NatWest say people can go to the Cleveleys branch but that means customers who live in Fleetwood have to leave town if they need transactions over the counter with their bank.

“People who might otherwise have stayed and done their shopping in the town will now be going elsewhere. It also means we will have just a couple of bank branches left in Fleetwood.

“We will also have an iconic, high street building lying empty.

“And speaking personally, as a market trader, I deal in cash and would normally nip into the Lord Street branch to pay my takings into the account – and so do other traders who are with the Nat West.

“Now we’re all also going to have to leave town to do it. It’s very disappointing.”

Steve Grundy, acting chairman of Kirkham and Wesham Business group, said: “That will be three banks we have lost from Kirkham in little more than 12 months, following the closures of Barclays and HSBC.

“That will leave us with just three – RBS, Lloyds and Santander – and I fear it will really have a bad effect of trade.

“The bank closures also mean usually that the ATMs there will be lost, which make it more difficult for those who might spend money in town to get their cash out and for those of us with businesses, these closures make a big difference.

“The rise of internet banking is always cited these days as a main reason for banks closing but business owners need branches locally to pay in cash.”

NatWest has said it was working to reduce the impact on its staff.

A spokesman said: “We are doing everything we can to support them, including seeking redeployment opportunities wherever possible and ensuring that compulsory redundancies are kept to a minimum.”

He said the changes are due because more people are choosing to carry out banking online.

“As a result of this change, we have seen the number of transactions in these branches decline since 2011 (Lytham by 32 per cent Fleetwood by 30 per cent Kirkham by 31 per cent and NatWest Poulton-le-Fylde by 21 per cent).

“We have seen an increase in customers actively choosing to use online and or mobile banking for their day to day banking needs (Lytham by 47 per cent Fleetwood by 48 per cent Kirkham by 56 per cent and Poulton-Le-Fylde by 50 per cent).”