Portsmouth minister urged to step in over bank closures

Residents are unhappy at the decision to close the Natwest branch in Stubbington
Residents are unhappy at the decision to close the Natwest branch in Stubbington
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AN MP has raised the closure of banks in parliament.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage asked the minister for Portsmouth Matt Hancock to urge banking firms to keep open both the Natwest in Stubbington and the HSBC in Lee-on-the-Solent.

It comes as Martin Marks, chair of Lee Residents, warned that the closure could have a dire effect on businesses and people with mobility issues.

He said: ‘It’s going to make it more difficult.

‘If they need to get to the bank, the nearest HSBC is in Fareham or Gosport.’

Mr Marks, a customer of Natwest, said that the branch was supposed to serve both Lee and Stubbington after the firm pulled out of Lee some years ago.

Councillor Chris Wood, represents Stubbington at Fareham’s council. He said the bank appeared to break its own customer charter, including promising to put customers first.

He said: ‘‘When I pressed them on this they said there’s no repercussions.

‘That renders it absolutely worthless.’

As reported, HSBC is the last bank in Lee and is to close later this month despite thousands of people signing a petition.

Businesses in High Street say they may have to travel out of town to pay in cash if they cannot use the Post Office.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Dinenage said: ‘Access to banking support is vital to small businesses and yet in my constituency, Natwest is closing their Stubbington branch and later this month HSBC are going to shut the last bank in Lee-on-the-Solent.

‘Can the minister urge these banks to do more to keep these important local services open?’

Mr Hancock, minister of state for business and enterprise, said: ‘Having visited Stubbington and Lee-on-the-Solent with her only this week I know how important these issues are locally.

‘Of course, ultimately this is a commercial matter for the banks.’

Ms Dinenage added: ‘It’s about time that banks occasionally put customer service and community responsibilities ahead of profits.’