Town to see last bank withdrawal?

PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 November 2014

(c) Adam Gault

Budleigh Salterton is to be left as a ‘one bank town’ after the second bank in two months announced it would be closing – and there are fears it could be left with no banks at all.

NatWest has announced that its High Street branch will be shutting on February 17.

Following last month’s announcement that Barclays will be closing its Budleigh branch in January, this will leave Lloyds as the only bank left in town.

And Lloyds is unable to confirm if its Budleigh branch will be part of a 150-branch closure programme it is planning.

A spokesman for Lloyds Bank said: “Around 150 banks will be closing over the next three years. We don’t know if Budleigh will be part of that or not.”

NatWest says it has decided to close its branch due to falling customer numbers, and says customers will be able to withdraw cash, check balances, make deposits free of charge, and get business coinage at the Post Office, in the Co-op.

A NatWest spokesman said: “The number of transactions taking place at this branch has dropped by 30 per cent over the last few years.

“The branch is only open for 15 hours a week and only has 21 customers who use the branch regularly every week.”

In response, town mayor Caz Sismore-Hunt said she was very concerned by the closure, and questioned if the fall in customer numbers was due to reduced opening hours.

She added: “It’s a great concern, because you read that Lloyds are closing branches. Are we going to be left with no banks at all? That’s the great worry.

“It’s bad enough for personal banking, but for businesses that bank with NatWest and Barclays it’s another nail in the coffin. I am very disappointed.”

Budleigh Salterton Chamber of Commerce chairman Christine Bentley said: “Retail businesses have already been hard-hit by shortened banking hours in Budleigh. Whilst people go out of town to bank they do their shopping also.

“It is all extremely worrying.”

Mike Clarke, of Budleigh in Business, said: “It’s really disappointing that another bank closes its local operation, leaving the town exposed with only one bank with no absolute security on Lloyds’ long term plans.”

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