Close watch to be kept on changes after bank closure

Promises that local residents and businesses will not be adversely affected by NatWest’s decision to shut its branch in Chepstow are to be closely monitored.

Monmouth MP David Davies and Cllr Paul Pavia (Larkfield ward) met with the bank’s management on Friday to discuss the closure, planned for 7 June this year.

They are both seeking assurances about how NatWest will support vulnerable customers in the future, especially older people.

Many day to day facilities will be available at the Post Office. For more specialist queries, it is proposed to have a mobile banking service either in the form of a van or in another premises at least once a week.

People will also be offered help to set up and use online applications.

But there are worries about those living in rural areas without broadband who might have problems accessing banking online.

“The community clearly has concerns which we wanted to share with NatWest management,” said Mr Davies.

“While measures are being put in place to mitigate the impact on individuals and businesses, it remains disappointing that the branch will close and this is bound to cause many people inconvenience to begin with.”

Cllr Pavia said “only time will tell” if mitigation measures are effective enough.

He added: “While I welcome the open and frank discussion we had with senior managers, it’s clear they are not going to diverge away from their intended course of action to close the branch.

“This decision is ultimately a commercial one for the bank. However, David and I made our views very clear that mobile or online banking doesn’t always replace permanent over the counter facilities, despite having a partnership agreement with the Post Office.

“The bank’s management team understand that and are putting in additional mitigation measures but only time will tell if they are enough, particularly for business customers.

“The channels of communication will remain open with NatWest and we will continue to work with them to limit the inconvenience the closure will have for local residents and businesses.”