Bank withdrawals bad for business

Natwest branch closed in Ottery

Natwest branch closed in Ottery - Credit: Archant

Ottery’s community has voiced concerns over how the closure of one bank - and tenuous positions of the remaining two - could hit the town centre.

The Natwest branch in Silver Street shut its doors on Thursday after reducing its opening times to just 15 hours a week.

Barclays in Silver Street is currently under review and the Lloyds Bank branch will have its opening hours cut from June 1.

This has prompted fears from residents and business owners that people will be forced to go out of town for basic services and shopping.

Mayor Glyn Dobson is a Natwest customer and now must use the Honiton branch.

“It seems so short sighted,” he said. “We have all these new houses and they are shutting the banks. It does not help the town centre.”

Town councillor Elli Pang added: “I’m really worried in case we lose all of our banks, because the beauty of living in a town like this is that we have all services we need here. When I needed to help my daughter do her banking when she was abroad, the staff in the Barclays branch were brilliant. That level of local service will be missed.”

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Stewart Lucas, owner of Silver Street Tattoos, said: “I think it is really bad for the town. It makes it difficult, especially for elderly people and it’s inconvenient for the local businesses.”

Resident Jo Sarton said that even though there is still a Barclays branch in town, she was told she would have to travel to Sidmouth or Honiton to see a financial advisor, adding: “That’s all we need, for Barclays to close as well, or even reduce its hours.”

A Natwest spokesperson said: “We took the difficult decision to close the branch because the number of transactions had fallen by 30 per cent since 2011.”

The company added that there is provision in the post office in Mill Street for people to do their banking.

A Barclays spokesperson said: “We have consistently been clear that, over time, there will be fewer traditional branches as we move to provide banking services to customers where and when they find it most convenient.”

Lloyds Bank confirmed the branch will reduce its opening hours to 10am to 3pm from Mondays to Fridays from June 1.

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