Caroline Flint

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Flint attacks RBS secrecy over bank branch closures

CF_close_up_with_name080218.JPGCaroline Flint has accused RBS, owners of NatWest bank, of secrecy over the facts about the proposed Thorne and Bawtry NatWest branch closures.

During a debate on community banking, the MP addressed RBS bosses, saying: “Please do not patronise me with offers to meet a ‘senior representative’ when you refuse to provide any information which may demonstrate that small businesses, pensioners or the community generally may need the services provided in the Thorne and Bawtry branches more than you care to admit.”

The MP challenged RBS over the future of Bawtry and Thorne NatWest branches, which are scheduled to close in May and June 2018.

The MP said that, to date, her request for information about the banks were being blocked by RBS.

The MP told the Commons: “When a member of my staff went to the Bawtry Natwest mid-week in mid-January – a quiet post-Christmas week - they saw a queue outside the bank before it opened at 10am; and at 10.45 they found a queue more than ten deep in the bank, with several counters in use.

“But, when I asked RBS how many transactions took place at the Thorne and Bawtry branches in the first hour of each day since the New Year; the bank refused to disclose the information. It was “commercially sensitive” I was told.

“Nor would RBS furnish me with: What proportion of the customers are pensioners? How many transactions took place at each branch in the past year? Or why neither branch opened at weekends?”

“The MP argued that banks make little effort to find ways to keep sustainable branches open, such as sharing premises with other banks.

The MP challenged the Government not to be neutral on the issue of bank closures.

“If the Government wishes to regenerate our small towns and now halt the growing gap between city and small town Britain, we need a policy to keep bank branches open. It cannot be right that towns with a population of four or five thousand people – that are sustainable in every other way – cannot have banking services on their doorstep.”

“The Government needs policy on this. And it could begin by collecting and reporting the data on bank branches and the rate of closure, facing the uncomfortable truth about loss of services in small town Britain.

“The Government cannot be neutral on this matter. Its mandate derives from the British people, not UK Finance.”



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