LISTEN: Dr James Davies MP talks to Harold Martin about saving NatWest
Dr James Davies MP is calling for the public to rally against the proposed closure of Prestatyn’s NatWest branch.
Only a month after his election in 2015, Dr Davies MP called a meeting with NatWest representatives in relation to branch closures in St Asaph and Denbigh. At the time, the bank representatives commented that their Prestatyn branch not only attracted a number of customers that was significantly more than would justify its closure but that it had bucked the trend nationally in being one of few branches to have not seen a reduction in its use. Prestatyn has in recent years become much busier, thanks to a new town centre shopping park, visited by upto 10,000 cars per day. Its town centre has been a finalist in the coastal category of the Great British High Street competition for the last two years in a run.
With the recent news that NatWest now intends to close down its Prestatyn presence, Dr Davies has expressed his dismay and surprise, branding it “a step too far”. He has launched a number of efforts to try to save this latest branch under threat.
Following the announcement, Dr James Davies met with the Local CEO in mid-December to raise concerns about the impact closure would bring to residents, businesses and community groups in Prestatyn and surrounding towns and villages. Dr Davies suggested various options which might be investigated by the bank to assist in keeping the branch open, and highlighted the difference between NatWest’s approach and the investments that other banks, including much smaller ones, continue to make in Prestatyn.
Dr Davies also raised the ongoing concerns of constituents living in smaller communities in the area, whose branches have already closed down. He explained that the current replacement provision is not sufficient for many customers, particularly for those who work during the limited times it is available and for those with a disability.
Following this meeting Dr Davies MP called upon the UK government to put pressure on bank bosses and wrote to the Treasury to ask for their assistance.
Several days later, it was arranged for Dr James Davies to meet with the Regional Managing Director for the South West and Wales, at Westminster, to further raise concerns, to provide additional background information on the communities affected, and to explain about the large number of pensioners dependent on High Street banking services locally. During this meeting, Dr Davies secured the promise of a visit by a senior manager of NatWest to visit both the Prestatyn and Rhyl branches to understand fully the characteristics of the branches and the customers that rely up on them. While Rhyl is currently under no threat of closure, Dr Davies wanted to ensure that both branches were visited in the hope that he could future proof any further decisions that may arise.
The visit to Prestatyn and Rhyl branches is due to take place mid-late morning of 12th January and will be followed on 13th January by a further discussion with the Local CEO and Business Growth Enabler.
Dr Davies MP is aware that a petition against closure of the Prestatyn branch has been started at a local newsagents and is keen to support this. He would urge all local NatWest customers to make their views known and emphasise to bosses that the recent granting of planning permission for another supermarket in Prestatyn town centre shows a town in growth, which it makes sense for the bank to continue to engage with.