Anger over plans to shut Hampstead branch of Nat West bank
PUBLISHED: 13:23 31 March 2017 | UPDATED: 13:24 31 March 2017
Bank customers have hit out at plans to close the Hampstead branch of Nat West Bank as part of a cull on 158 branches across the country.
The branch on Hampstead High Street will close on September 25.
Mother-of-three and singer Babs Savage, of Lyndale Avenue, has lived in Hampstead for 25 years and has used the Nat West branch for 20 years, said: “I’m disgusted, it’s just ridiculous. The staff in there are so lovely, they told me it’s shutting down in September as it’s not busy enough, but it always looks busy.”
“I always go into the bank because my computer’s been hacked twice, I wouldn’t want to do online banking because of that and I should have that choice. “I don’t think that your options for dealing with money should only be online, it should be opt out.
“The second time I was hacked the only thing I was relieved about was that I hadn’t set up online banking, I was really glad.”
She is also concerned about the affect on elderly customers who don’t bank online. “The staff are so good and personable with older people too. And what about older people, what are they going to do?
“They can’t get to the nearest bank easily, especially if HS2 goes through. I think it will really isolate elderly people living in that community.”
She added: “The NatWest bank and staff are part of our community; it’s a secure place, a safe haven.
A NatWest spokesperson confirmed: “Since 2011 we have seen the number of transactions in the Hampstead Village branch decline by 53 per cent. These customers are actively choosing to bank in different ways, with 72.9pc of customers choosing to use our digital banking options.
“We are communicating with our customers affected by the closure 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. We know that not all of our customers are comfortable and familiar with using online or mobile banking, so we have created a new specialist taskforce of tech experts who will be dedicated to supporting our customers with training and support with digital skills. From next month, at least one TechXpert will be available in each NatWest branch.
The move is part of a plan from RBS and NatWest to close 158 branches across the UK with loss of 470 jobs. Other local branches affected include Belsize Park, East Finchley, Euston Road, St. John’s Wood and Temple Fortune.