Express & Star

NatWest bank closures – three Black Country branches to shut

NatWest branches in the Black Country are to shut next year as part of a round of 259 closures announced by owner Royal Bank of Scotland this morning.

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The branch in Bilston will close on June 5, Fordhouses in Wolverhampton will follow on June 20, with Kingswinford to lose its branch on June 26.

NatWest in Kingswinford. Picture Google Maps

The move will lead to 680 job losses around the country.

RBS, still 72 per cent owned by the taxpayer, is the third this week to announce closures and job cuts, following Lloyds and Yorkshire Building Society.

An RBS spokesman said: "More and more of our customers are choosing to do their everyday banking online or on mobile.

"Since 2014 the number of customers using our branches across the UK has fallen by 40 per cent and mobile transactions have increased by 73 per cent over the same period. Over five million customers now use our mobile banking app and one in five only bank with us digitally."

The company said the number of transactions over the counter at Bilston have fallen by 32 per cent since 2012, and only 110 people are using the branch in Church Street each week.

The Fordhouses branch, opposite the Ming Moon restaurant in Stafford Road, has just 66 customers a week passing through its doors after a 22 per cent decline in transactions in the last five years.

Kingswinford has just 60 people a week using its branch, after a 33 per cent drop in transactions.

The bank's branch in High Street in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, is also to close as part of the plans.

The bank added that 63 per cent of Bilston customers, 69 per cent of those in Fordhouses and 61 per cent of those in Kingswinford now do their banking digitally.

However, union Unite described the move as a "betrayal" and ripped into the Government for allowing the closures to proceed.

The union's national officer Rob MacGregor also said that the move could effectively signal the end of banking in branches.

He added: "The Royal Bank of Scotland has decided to decimate its bank branch network.

"Now serious questions need to be asked about whether these closures mark the end of branch network banking.

"This announcement will forever change the face of banking in this country resulting in over a thousand staff losing their jobs and hundreds of high streets without any banking facilities.

"Why is the Government signing off this alarming branch closure programme?"