Fear for Emsworth businesses after town’s final bank set to close next year

NatWest bank in Emsworth
NatWest bank in Emsworth
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NATWEST in Emsworth is closing, leaving the town without a bank.

It says the decision is down to more customers doing their banking online.

The firm will shut its branch on Emsworth’s High Street on June 7, 2017, leaving businesses worrying about a further decrease in footfall.

It is the town’s only bank following the closure of Barclays in December 2014.

Giles Babb, chairman of the Emsworth Business Association, says that the news is a ‘bitter pill to swallow’.

He said: ‘It’s a bit of a blow having lost the other banks and worked hard with NatWest to keep the area sustainable for businesses.

‘There are still a lot of businesses needing services that you can’t access online.

‘The whole local economy could be affected by this.’

NatWest says that the ‘difficult decision’ follows a 400-per-cent rise in mobile and online transactions between 2010 and 2015.

A spokeswoman said: ‘The way people choose to bank with us has changed radically over the last few years.

‘As a result of this change, we have seen the number of transactions in Emsworth branch declining by 31 per cent since 2011 and 52 per cent of the branch’s customers are actively choosing to use online or mobile banking for their day-to-day needs.’

Havant MP Alan Mak says that he has been reassured by NatWest that the closure is ‘not a reflection on Emsworth’s economy’.

He said: ‘I’m very disappointed to hear today about the planned closure of Emsworth’s NatWest because local residents and businesses rely on our banks.’

Mr Mak has written to NatWest’s chief executive, asking him to reconsider the action. ‘In the meantime, we must all continue backing Emsworth’s businesses to keep our local economy strong,’ he added.