NatWest faces criticism after announcing branch closure

NatWest has announced it will be permanently closing its Long Buckby branch on November 24.

Some limited banking services including over the counter withdrawals and balance checks will be moved to the nearby post office, while the cash-point is to remain open.

But the imminent closure of the branch, in the village’s Market Square has been greeted by dismay by residents, who are particularly concerned about the effect it could have on the elderly and those with disabilities:

Robert Pring, 57 has lived in Long Buckby for around eight years.

He said: “I am very sceptical. I think the bank is relied on by older people and a lot of businesses who bank on Monday.

“I feel sorry for the older people in our village who rely on it. Action should be taken to stop it.

“I feel it will starve the community of a vital service.”

Tony Peploe, 73, added:“They are building two new estates down the road and there’s a lot of people who can’t get about so easy.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable using the post office. What happens if it closes?”

Another resident, Marilyn Bunnage, added: “I am very disappointed it has to close.

“It is only open twice a week but it was nice to see the cheery faces of staff.”

NatWest said the number of transactions taking place at its Long Buckby branch has fallen by 29 per cent over the past few years – although NatWest slashed its opening hours in 2010.

The branch is now only open for 10 hours each week and the firm said only 23 customers use the branch on a weekly basis.

A spokesman said: “Over our whole branch network there has been a 30 per cent drop in branch transactions since 2010 as people do their banking where and when it is convenient for them, while online and mobile transactions have grown by more than 200 per cent.

“When we close a branch, we take a number of factors into account including usage and alternative ways to bank with us in the local area.

“We’ve advised staff and we’re writing to our customers to make them aware of the closure and the different ways they can still bank with us.

“If customers or local businesses are concerned about how this will impact their banking, they can go into the branch where staff will be happy to discuss the alternative ways to bank with us.”

In 2010 Long Buckby residents reacted angrily when NatWest announced it would be cutting opening hours to just two days a week to 9.30am to 2.30pm on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The changes went ahead despite a petition signed by Daventry’s MP Chris Heaton-Harris and 500 others.