Since the news that NatWest Bank have decided to close their Knott End branch the community has really come together to fight it. Local people have given up their own time to run petitions, online groups, and have even grabbed national newspaper headlines with the Save Our Bank campaign. The strength of feeling really shows; this is the bank many of you have used all your life, the bank you use for your small business, and the bank you had hoped would serve our Over Wyre community for many years to come. It seems that although the bonuses are back for the bankers in The City, in our rural part of North Lancashire there is nothing to celebrate.
I've met with many local residents and bank customers over the past month, including outside NatWest where you kindly shared your own experiences with me. I wrote to NatWest immediately expressing the strong feelings you have for the branch and reminding them of their television advert “We will never close the last bank in town”, explaining that because of that they had won a great deal of goodwill and custom which was being lost over the news of the closure.
As a result of the community campaign, NatWest have made the decision to introduce a new Mobile Bank service which will visit the community at Knott End every week. This will be subject to local agreement and planning consents to enable NatWest to park the Mobile Bank, but it will enable bank customers to access the majority of services that they can in the existing branch. NatWest customers will also be able to continue to access their banking in a number of other ways in the local area including telephone banking, online and mobile banking, the ATM, at an alternative NatWest branch or Knott End Post Office.
NatWest are now engaging with relevant local parties for the necessary permissions to introduce the Mobile Bank service in the local community, and I have said I will support this introduction. NatWest are also keen to ensure that the service is sufficient to meet with local demand in the long-term, so once in place they will monitor the service, listen to feedback and investigate the possibility of extending the time of the service in the future. I am also asking about the possibility of the Mobile Bank visiting other local villages on its way to and from Knott End.