Troubled banking giant RBS is closing 158 branches across the UK and this will include those in Felixstowe, Woodbridge and Stowmarket, with the bank blaming a sharp reduction in the number of transactions and the shift to online banking .
The Stowmarket branch is to close on September 21st, the Felixstowe branch on September 27th and the Woodbridge branch on September 28th.
NatWest said it was announcing the closures six months in advance to allow customers time to consider alternative banking arrangements, with vulnerable customers and regular branch users to be contacted “proactively” to discuss their options.
“The way people choose to bank with us has changed radically over the last few years,” said a spokesman. “Between 2010 and 2015, mobile and online transactions have increased by over 400% and mobile transactions alone have increased by 1,350%.
“Since 2011 we have seen the number of transactions fall by 37% in the Felixstowe branch, 36% in the Stowmarket branch and 53% in the Woodbridge branch. These customers are actively choosing to bank in different ways, with an average of 62% of customers at these branches choosing to use our digital banking options.”
A total of six staff will be affected by the closures, three in Woodbridge, two in Felixstowe and one in Stowmarket.
The spokesman added: “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 NatWest TechXperts who will be dedicated to supporting our customers with training and support with digital skills.”
In addition to online and telephone banking facilities, all three banks due to close were within a mile of a Post Office, where customers would be able to pay in or withdraw cash and check their balances, and within a mile of a number of cash machines
That’s all very well, but If you are a business that regularly banks cash, or an older person who doesn’t like using the internet – then Nat West has decided you are no longer welcome as a customer.
RBS are not alone. There has been of late a general trend across the country with all of the major banks regularly closing branches – but Felixstowe so far has not felt much of the brunt. And fortunately there are still other choices in the town. But who wants the pain of changing banks unless you have to?
From September, the nearest remaining NatWest branch for customers of the Felixstowe and Woodbridges branches will be at Ransomes Europark, Ipswich, 8.9 miles and 8.8 miles away respectively, while the nearest branch for Stowmarket customers will be the Ipswich town centre branch, in Tavern Street, 13.2 miles away.
Nationally, the RBS group is to close a total of 128 NatWest and 30 RBS branches, affecting around 470 jobs.