Campaigners calling on NatWest to reverse plans to close a branch in a Derby suburb appear to have given up their fight after being told by the bank that it will not revisit its decision.
Last month, a 463-name petition was sent to Ross McEwan, chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which owns NatWest, calling on him to halt plans to close its Mickleover branch.
And a letter signed by the suburb’s three ward councillors – Alison Holmes, Matthew Holmes and John Keith – was also been sent to Mr McEwan, urging the bank to think again about its decision to close the Station Road branch, which is due to shut its doors in October.
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They have since received a reply from Mr McEwan’s office, which states that the bank will not be changing its mind.
In the letter, Iain Stark, writing on behalf of Mr McEwan, wrote: “As representatives of the community, I acknowledge your concern at our decision to close the Mickleover branch and I appreciate the time you have spent collating the petition. Although I know this will come as a significant disappointment, we won’t be revisiting our decision.”
NatWest has previously said that it had decided to close Mickleover because of a fall in transactions as more people bank online. Those who were calling for it to stay open argued that the branch would be viable in the future because more houses are due to be built in the area.
Mrs Holmes said: “It’s a blow for hundreds of local residents and businesses. We did try to offer a more detailed view of how the bank serves our community and also highlight how so called replacement banking services via the Post Office need improving but it doesn’t seem to have made a great deal of difference.
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“It seems that this was a boardroom decision made some time ago that was always going to be driven through no matter what, which is a shame. For local residents, including the ward councillors, it really is sad to see the branch close as it’s been part of Mickleover for a very long time.
“It now remains to be seen how quickly the building is refurbished and re-occupied by a new business or retailer. It’s quite a unique building, which can be seen as both a positive and negative thing, but it’s certainly in a prime location.
“Despite not having any direct influence over privately-owned and commercial properties as councillors, we’ll be trying to update residents on the building as best we can. We certainly can’t afford another building standing empty in the village.”
An indicator that NatWest was carrying on regardless with the closure plan came last month, when it lodged an application with Derby City Council to remove the signage from the building. The application also asked the city council to approve plans to cover up the cash machine and night safe with steel blanking plates.
The closure of the Mickleover branch was announced in March, along with four others in Belper, Ashbourne, Ripley and Matlock – and similar applications have since been lodged with their respective local authorities. NatWest has advised customers to carry out basic transactions at their local Post Office or travel to other branches.
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The closures will impact 21 jobs – five at Mickleover, eight at Belper, four at Ripley and two each at Ashbourne and Matlock. The move is part of nationwide plans to shut 158 branches, which will affect around 470 staff.
The closures in Derbyshire will take place towards the end of September and in October. The Belper branch will shut on September 26 and Ashbourne on September 27. The Mickleover branch will have its last day on October 2, while Ripley will shut the following day. The Matlock office will shut its doors on October 11.
Source: Derby Telegraph