Last bank to pull out of estate’s shopping precinct

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CUSTOMERS have been left angry after the only bank remaining in Leigh Park’s town centre announced it is to close.

Natwest, in Park Parade, Leigh Park, will shut up shop at the end of February – and the company says the move is down to a drop in people using it.

It follows Nationwide’s departure in April 2013.

It means shopkeepers will have to travel one-and-a-half miles into Havant town centre to do their banking if they have takings to deposit.

And ordinary customers will have to do the same or go online.

Marc Maran, 43, of Woodcot Crescent, West Leigh, said: ‘The independent traders have been working hard to rejuvenate the heart of Leigh Park over recent years.

‘Many new shops and businesses have now opened.

‘The closure of the Natwest branch leaves a large vibrant community without a local bank and means a lot of people will now have to bank in Havant.

‘This is a devastating loss for Leigh Park and an inconvenience to a lot of loyal customers.’

And customer Bettina Brown said: ‘This will leave only the Post Office for banking.

‘I appreciate their reasons for the closure but shops and businesses need a bank for paying in cash. Many of the older community are unable to bank online – if you are on a fixed budget one of the first luxuries to go is the kind of mobile phone you have.

‘And to have to travel into Havant will cause many people problems, as there are very few disabled parking facilities near to the Havant branch.’

In a statement the bank said cash points would stay.

The company added: ‘The number of transactions taking place at this branch has dropped by 17 per cent over the last few years.

‘Over our whole branch network there has been a 30 per cent drop in branch transactions since 2010 as people do their banking where and when it is convenient for them, whilst online and mobile transactions have grown by over 200 per cent.’

The bank has come to an agreement with the Post Office, a few doors down, that customers can withdraw cash, check balances, and make deposits free of charge.

Councillor David Guest, deputy leader of Havant Borough Council, said he is saddened by the closure but, because it is a private business decision, there is nothing the council can

do.