Third bank this year says it will leave Thornbury
ANOTHER bank is leaving Thornbury.
NatWest has announced that it will close its branch on The Plain, in a landmark building opposite the Thornbury Pump between the High Street and Castle Street, on September 22.
The closure is due to happen exactly four weeks after HSBC shuts its High Street branch on August 25.
And the closure of TSB's branch in the St Mary Shopping Centre on June 9 means NatWest will be the third bank to leave Thornbury this year.
It will leave Lloyds as the only 'big four' bank in the town, after Barclays left in 2019.
NatWest is advising customers to use its branch in Yate, which it says is "just under seven miles away" – although that is in a straight line, and the distance by road is around 10 miles – or to use the post office in the High Street.
The branch is one of 60 NatWest has listed on its website as closing this year. Others in the region include Bishopston in Bristol, Oldfield Park in Bath, and Clevedon.
A NatWest spokesperson said the number of transactions by personal customers at the Thornbury branch's counter fell by 30% between 2017 and 2019.
The bank also says only 22 personal customers and 123 business customers regularly used the branch in 2019, with 60% of branch personal customers also using online or mobile banking.
It says it is using figures from up to 2019 because 2020 data has been "significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic".
A NatWest spokesperson 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.
"We take our responsibility seriously to support the people who face challenges in moving online, so we are investing to provide them with support and alternatives that work for them."
NatWest has not confirmed how many staff work at the branch and what will happen to them when it closes but says it consults with their representatives over closures.
The bank said: "We are committed to supporting everyone affected by these changes and we understand these are exceptionally difficult times.
"We will seek to manage any redundancies on a voluntary basis, and there will be redeployment options available to some colleagues.
"For those impacted, we have put a strong support package in place and will continue to work with colleagues individually to understand their preferences."
NatWest says it is contacting customers and the local community to "talk through our decision".
Customers who want to ask questions or need extra support are being advised to contact the bank's local director, Lemara Hibbert, on 07866 033799 or Lemara.Hibbert@natwest.com.