Vikki meets with NatWest to discuss Aberdare branch closure

Cynon Valley AM Vikki Howells has urgently met with an executive from NatWest Bank, after the banking chain took the decision to close the popular branch of the high street bank in Aberdare town centre.

Vikki Howells AM presented the case for keeping the branch open to Mike German, Local CEO of NatWest Bank, at a meeting arranged in Vikki’s office in the National Assembly for Wales.

“Unfortunately NatWest are not willing to change their minds on keeping this branch open. However, I was able to extract some concessions from them around mobile banking services, so there was some positive news coming out of this meeting” said the Cynon Valley AM.

NatWest announced on 23 March that they would be closing their Aberdare branch, as part of a programme of closures that would see 128 branches of the bank closing around the UK.

NatWest said that the number of over the counter transactions carried out in Aberdare had declined by 31% since 2011.

In its place, a mobile bank will visit Aberdare once a week on a Friday afternoon for 1 hour with the precise timings and location to be confirmed.

NatWest customers would also be able to use the Post Office for banking functions, and the company would be holding events to highlight other ways for Cynon Valley customers to use NatWest services.

Vikki Howells AM said:-

“NatWest would not budge on their decision to close their branch in Aberdare. I argued that the decline in usage was linked to the reduction of opening hours in 2016 by nearly half, and also had photographic evidence of how busy the branch was.

“However, I did get NatWest to agree that they will look to increase the number of hours of mobile banking offered in Aberdare if the service proved to be well used.

“I am also concerned about the NatWest building, in its prominent town centre location, remaining vacant. I raised this with Mr German, who gave me assurances about the ongoing work the bank will do to maintain its physical condition and a commitment that if the building was not sold in six months, it would be made available for community use.

“NatWest had also announced they were withdrawing their mobile banking service from Hirwaun, and I got them to commit to bringing the service back. The mobile bank will stop off in Hirwaun after it visits Aberdare, and hopefully this will also increase use.

“This is not the outcome I hoped for, but will I hope lead to a better service provision for Cynon Valley than would have originally been the case. I will be monitoring the situation, and meeting NatWest again in the coming months to continue to press for improved local access to the company’s banking services”.