Ottery set to benefit from regional bank proposal

Tony Greenham, co-founder and director of South West Mutual. Picture: Graham Flack

Tony Greenham, co-founder and director of South West Mutual. Picture: Graham Flack - Credit: Graham Flack

A new bank could be set to open in Ottery as part of a £20million project to create a regional bank across the South West.

Tony Greenham, founding director of South West Mutual, spoke to the town council on Monday night about the company’s plans to help communities affected by the closure of branches.

Lloyds, the town’s last bank will close next Wednesday (October 10) and has begun operating a mobile bank service two days a week. Barclays and NatWest both shut in 2015.

Under South West Mutual’s proposals, the regional bank would run seven staffed and 21 satellite branches across Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset.

Mr Greenham said the plans were still in early stages with no branches likely to open until 2020 and that the company was working to secure £20million in capital and £500,000 towards its banking licence application.

He added: “One of the aims of the regional bank is to be able to serve communities across the region which are finding themselves without any banking services because of the closure of branches.

“What we are aiming to do is be a high street bank serving personal customers and businesses, particularly smaller businesses with current accounts, savings products and loans products, mortgages, overdrafts, secured personal loans and so on.

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“A normal high street bank if you like, but the key difference is we will be owned by our customers.

“The interest of our customers will be aligned with our owners because they are the same people.”

He said the town would ‘definitely’ be a satellite branch, where customers can use machines to carry out their banking, video link assistance, and meeting room for face-to-face meetings at times during the week.

Mr Greenham replied: “There are more people choosing to use digital banking much more, but that doesn’t mean that people do not want branches anymore.

“But we can’t support the size of branch networks that banks had in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s.

“The answer is this hybrid branch, which is entirely capable of self-service with nobody there, though our intention in each community is to see when would be the critical times to try to have a personal assistant when people really do need to use one-to-one.”

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