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Closure of NatWest branch in Eccleshall

Volume 594: debated on Thursday 26 March 2015

The Petition of residents of the constituency of Stone in Staffordshire,

Declares that residents of Eccleshall object to the closure of NatWest branch in Eccleshall and further that this is the only remaining bank branch in Eccleshall.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to encourage NatWest to keep the Eccleshall branch open.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Sir William Cash, Official Report, 3 March 2015; Vol. 593, c. 919.]

[P001440]

Observations from the Chancellor of the Exchequer:

The Government thank the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) for his petition on the closure of the NatWest branch in Eccleshall.

The Government are sorry to hear about the disappointment that the closure of the local NatWest bank branch has caused to residents of Eccleshall.

Improving access to banking is a key part of the Government’s long-term economic plan. The Government continue to engage actively with the banking industry and consumer groups on these matters. Recently, the Economic Secretary for the Treasury has chaired a series of roundtable meetings alongside the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills on access to banking. The UK’s banks and building societies have been tasked with enhancing and improving awareness of the banking services available through the Post Office. NatWest already has an arrangement with the Post Office to provide access to their bank accounts, where customers can withdraw money, deposit cash and cheques and check balances at all 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.

While the range of services offered by the Post Office may be more limited than that offered in a traditional bank branch, the services provided through the Post Office’s extensive network ensures that essential banking facilities remain available in as many communities as possible. This Government have committed almost £2 billion to protect and modernise the Post Office network.

In addition, following local engagement with the hon. Member for Stone and the residents of Eccleshall, NatWest have re-aligned one of their Mobile Banking van routes so it will now visit Eccleshall. This will ensure face-to-face banking services are still available to the community of Eccleshall on designated days.

Although we can understand local residents’ concern, decisions on opening and closing agencies are taken by the management team of each bank on a commercial basis. As with other banking service providers, NatWest need to balance customer interests, market competition, and other commercial factors when considering their strategy and the Government do not seek to intervene in these decisions.