Customers 'upset' at upcoming NatWest closure amid lack of consultation claims

A NatWest branch is set to close next week despite efforts by campaigners to save it.

The NatWest branch in Stourbridge that is due to close
The NatWest branch in Stourbridge that is due to close

Community activists at 38 Degrees Stourbridge have collected 100 signatures in protest against the closure on February 8.

Bosses at the bank said it had received just one complaint about the decision to shut the branch, in High Street, due to dwindling customer visits since 2019.

But the group claims that the fall in the numbers happened during the Covid pandemic crisis and that many of the customers it spoke to were unaware of the closure. It said it wants a meeting with bank bosses.

“People are upset at the prospect of losing face-to-face banking after years of using the branch. The reaction was that not everyone wants to or can bank online or on the phone. The nearest alternative walk-in branch is nearly four miles away at Merry Hill,” Linda Foster, of the group said.

A NatWest statement said: “As with many industries, most of our customers are shifting to mobile and online banking, because it’s faster and easier for people to manage their financial lives.

“We understand and recognise that digital solutions aren’t right for everyone or every situation, and that when we close branches we have to make sure that no one is left behind.

“We take our responsibility seriously to support the people who face challenges in moving online, so we are investing to provide them with support and alternatives that work for them.”

Wollaston and Stourbridge Town ward representative Councillor Cat Eccles said: “The first I knew was a letter late last year to me as a customer. No consultation has been brought to my attention. I’m very disappointed about the planned closure of NatWest.

“It seems they’re determined to go ahead despite people’s objections.”

“NatWest customers we spoke to complained that the bank has increasingly restricted access to the branch, culminating in it not opening at all on Saturdays, the only day that many working people can visit. And that goes for the Merry Hill branch too.”

Ms Eccles said that she is exploring alternative ways to maintain face-to-face services in the town for Nat West customers shut out by the branch closure.

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