Dismay as another bank announces closure

NatWest has announced it is closing its branch in the Westbury on Trym  in August – the same month HSBC will close its branch 70 yards away in Canford Lane.

The closure of the High Street NatWest is another blow comes as a blow to the village.

Bristol City Councillor, Steve Smith, said he was very disappointed and concerned.

“We were very disappointed both because of the impact on NatWest customers and the wider impact on Westbury Village and the many shops that benefit from footfall generated by the banks.   It is concerning that this is the second bank in quick succession to shut up shop locally.”. 

A group of councillors have sent NatWest a joint letter, asking them to consider sharing premises with HSBC.

Councillor Smith said: “We have written to NatWest setting out our concerns and offering to host a conversation with all of the village banks about providing a shared facility to maintain a local presence, but have not had any substantive response.”

The letter says: “We wish to point out that the presence of major banks performs a vital role in helping to ensure our local high streets remain attractive, coherent, and vibrant places to visit. 

“They are integral to secondary shopping centres. Furthermore, the loss of these facilities runs entirely contrary to the future of city and town planning for liveable neighbourhoods which will seek to limit travel and tie residents more to their immediate area.”

The councillors also say reduced bus services locally made it harder for people to travel to other branches.

Westbury-on-Trym Forum discussed the closures at their meeting in April.

Spokesman Malcolm Neave said many people travel to Westbury from adjacent areas, such as Henleaze, Henbury and Southmead, because all the banks in those areas have already disappeared.  He urged customers and shareholders to voice their views to the banks.

Councillor Sharon Scott said the NatWest closure would be “a major blow for the community”.

She said: “A large number of our residents are elderly and don’t use online banking.  The prospect of them travelling to the nearest branch in Filton is outrageous as many may no longer drive.  The loss of NatWest in Westbury village in early August will no doubt reduce numbers coming into the village and potentially will impact our local businesses.”

 Nat West confirmed the Westbury branch will close on August 8, because of falling counter transactions, which are down by almost two-thirds since 2019.

A spokesperson said they have opened a partnership with the Post Office in Canford Lane to provide counter services, and opened a dedicated phone line for any customers aged over 60 to help them use online and mobile banking. 

They said: “As with many industries, most of our customers are shifting to mobile and online banking, because it’s faster and easier for people to manage their financial lives.  

“We understand and recognise that digital solutions aren’t right for everyone or every situation, and that when we close branches we have to make sure that no one is left behind.”

In January The Voice reported that HSBC was to close its Westbury branch in August this year. HSBC said nine out of ten customers now used online and mobile banking.