Sir Edward Leigh, the veteran Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, has written to the Chairman of the National Westminster Bank plc., Sir Howard Davis, to urge the bank, in the strongest possible terms, to reconsider its decision to close the branch in Gainsborough’s Market Place.
The constituency, which Sir Edward has represented for near thirty-five years, has suffered closure of all its NatWest branches except that in Gainsborough. Both the branches in Caistor and Market Rasen have been permanently closed in recent years. This additional closure is a terrible blow for the town.
Sir Edward said:
“Towns like Gainsborough are facing growing pressures but also opportunities. Gainsborough in particular has featured redevelopments like Marshall’s Yard which have brought life and business into the town.
“Gainsborough is expected to see economic growth of 12% in future years, supported by an increase in housing of 47%. As the town moves from a modest population of around 20,000 to in excess of 30,000, it is a growing and important urban centre and one that would benefit from retaining its NatWest branch.”
Sir Edward, in his letter, also pointed out that whilst branch banking is on the decline, nevertheless many older constituents, who are less likely to use internet banking, prefer face-to-face contact in bank branches.
The MP has requested that the decision is revisited and requested a meeting with Sir Howard to discuss the matter.
A spokeswoman for the bank, Ms Kate Visser, said:
“Since 2012 we have seen the way in which people use NatWest Gainsborough branch change dramatically, with now 86 per cent of customers already banking in other ways locally. "Transactions in NatWest Gainsborough branch have reduced by 37 per cent since 2012 with now only 58 customers visiting the branch on a weekly basis. Fifty-eight per cent of customers are now choosing to bank digitally with us on a regular basis instead.”
Deputy Chairman of West Lindsey District Council's Prosperous Communities Committee, Cllr. Mrs. Gillian Bardsley, who represents the Gainsborough North ward, was also unhappy with the announcement of the closure. She commented:
“It is very, very disappointing, I think we were all worried that one of the banks might close as the Market Place is quiet at the moment.
“It is disappointing as the bank represents the commercial and business side of the town.”