Yet another branch of a high street bank is to close in the Derbyshire Dales, amid news that rural communities are already seeing swathes of cuts to local banking services.
Following reports that NatWest branches in Hathersage and Tideswell, and an RBS in Darley Dale in September, and unconfirmed reports that HSBC has closed in Matlock town centre, another branch has been found with plans to shut its doors within a few months.
A customer of NatWest in Wirksworth has confirmed rumours that the branch will be ceasing to serve local customers on September 7, although unconfirmed by the bank itself.
The news adds to the worries of rural communities who are under increased pressure to either switch banks or travel great distances to stay loyal to the company they may have banked with for years.
Chairman of Matlock Town Team Rob Short, a business owner who now has to bank with Co-op in Chesterfield after his branch in Matlock closed, said the string of closures will push many customers away.
He added: “It’s disappointing that two have closed in the space of two weeks - Co-op and now HSBC. It’s saying to people that they’ve got to switch, and it’s also driving people to do their banking, and their shopping elsewhere.”
And Mr Short says he now has to travel to Chesterfield or Alfreton to do his business banking with the Co-op.
“I appreciate more banking is done online but it’s a community service that’s disappearing, and there’s still a very large age group who prefer to go into the branch. It’s all very well saying people can use the Post Office, but they simply can’t provide the full service,” he added.
NatWest and RBS said it was working hard to ensure there were a number of alternative ways for customers to continue banking with them.
A spokesperson for RBS and NatWest said: “We have reached an agreement with the local Post Office, so that our customers can check their balance, deposit and withdraw funds, and business customers can get coinage”, and the bank will also provide a mobile branch at set times.
The banks’ spokesperson added: “The number of transactions taking place at Tideswell branch has dropped by 25 per cent since 2011 and only 19 customers use the branch on a regular weekly basis. Eight of these customers already use other branches in the area.”
“Online and mobile transactions have grown by more than 300%.”
While, nationally, only 9 per cent of total transactions are now undertaken in branches.