NatWest to close Ruthin branch

Reporter:

Josh Morris

RUTHIN is to lose one of its three banks after NatWest announced their intention to close their branch in the town.

Residents of Bala and Corwen, still reeling from the closure of the branch there, will now have to travel to Mold or Dolgellau to visit a NatWest bank.

Ruthin will be left with branches of Barclays and HSBC.

County Councillor for Ruthin, Huw Hilditch-Roberts said: "It's a massive blow to the town, we've already gained people coming from Bala, Denbigh and Corwen since the closures last year. 

"We feel for the customers and staff alike. The Corwen loss is stil bubbling on as well, so it's a big loss for the county.

"There is the possibility of using the post office for NatWest banking faciities; people can bank cash and cheques as well as withdraw through the Post Office. 

"However, we'd look to ask NatWest that any partnerships they engage in offer a wide range of banking facilities as not everyone can access these online. Especially when BT and the Welsh Government are struggling to install the high speed broadband we've been promised; we still don't have broadband in some areas of Denbighshire which puts some at a disadvantage right away."

NatWest in Ruthin will close on June 13 next year. 

A statement from NatWest said: "The way people choose to bank with us has changed radically over the last few years. Between 2010 and 2015, mobile and online transactions have increased by over 400% and mobile transactions alone have increased by 1,350%.

"As a result of this change, we have seen the number of transactions at NatWest Ruthin decline by 11% in the last five years. 

"We are communicating with our customers affected by these closures 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. This has been done in order to ensure our customers have time to consider the right banking options for them."

After the closure, Ruthin will then receive the same mobile banking service Corwen receives. 

The town will also have a new "Community Banker" to provide NatWest customers with personal assistance in accessing banking and financial planning.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM said: “NatWest is the latest big bank to effectively turn its back on large parts of Wales – some key towns in my region will now be without a bank at all.

 “This abandoning of Welsh communities follows a pattern set by other banks and it will have a serious impact on many small traders who rely on local bank branches to bank takings on a regular basis. I know from previous bank closures in the region how this has impacted on local businesses, with some having to close for half a day to travel to the next nearest branch.

  “The banks will say that customers can bank online but this is only the case where customers have a decent broadband signal and that is simply not the case for many rural communities. I will continue to campaign to retain community banks and Plaid Cymru’s message is that, as the big corporate banks abandon our communities, we will work to create an alternative bank that does serve the people and small businesses of Wales.

 “I’m particularly concerned about the decision to quit the Ruthin branch, which is located in a historic building on the town’s square. I will be writing to the bank and local council asking what safeguards will be put in place to safeguard its future.”

See full story in the Free Press

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