Outrage as region loses its only bank branch in scandalous closure | UK | Travel

Outrage as region loses its only bank branch in scandalous closure (Image: Getty)

The Bakewell branch in Derbyshire is to shut its doors for good on February 22 after which there will be no banks anywhere in the 555 square-mile national park.

Customers will have to rely on Post Offices in the Peak District and Derbyshire Dales, where some banking services are on offer.

Since 2015 NatWest, which is still 39% owned by the taxpayer after it was bailed out in 2008, has closed more branches than any other operator with 1,329 gone across the country.

The Bakewell closure is among 19 that will shut down this year and next.

Former pensions minister Baroness Altmann, who backs the Daily Express Save Our High Street Banks campaign said the move was particularly disappointing when the taxpayer still owns so much of the business.

She said: “You have to remember NatWest was bailed out by the taxpayer at massive expense as it would otherwise have gone bust during the financial crisis in 2008.”

“One would have hoped that this bank would have operated a bit more in the social interest as a result, but it seems not.”

“It’s all part of cost cutting. I mean, there’s no way this is better for customers.”

“Of course NatWest is going to be sold next year, their shares are going to be floated. They want to try to boost profits as much as possible.”

“But older people very often don’t do digital banking. Either they don’t trust it, or they’ve never been taught or sometimes they cannot afford to get online.”

“Maybe they are in an area which doesn’t have good Wi-Fi, you don’t know?”

“There’s a whole generation which is being penalised and cut off from the rest of society for the crime of not being able to manage the internet. It just seems very sad to me.”

READ MORE Lloyds announces closure of 45 bank branches in matter of weeks – full list

Sarah Dines, the Tory MP for Derbyshire Dales, who is campaigning for the Bakewell branch to stay open said on Wednesday: “As disturbed as I was [that] British politicians were being debanked by NatWest, you can imagine my horror that an entire town, Bakewell in Derbyshire Dales, is being debanked by NatWest.”

“And in the whole of Derbyshire Dales and the Peak District, there isn’t a bank left. We are the national shareholder of NatWest, why are they ignoring my vulnerable, elderly people and also businessmen? It is a big, thriving market town.”

The decision came as Lloyds Banking Group announced on Thursday that another 45 branches will be closed.

The move will see 22 Halifax, 19 Lloyds and four Bank of Scotland branches shut for good.

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Lloyds was also bailed out with £20.3billion from the taxpayer during the crisis and the public once owned 43% of the group.

Now back in private hands, it has shut 970 bank branches since 2015, including 186 last year – more than any other group in 2022.

The means only around 5,000 high street banks remain across the UK, down from almost 10,000 in 2015.

Lord Foulkes, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Age and Older People, said: “Bank closures have risen from a trickle to a flood.”

He warned accessing cash is “difficult if not impossible for older people”, adding: “The Government needs to take urgent action to stop this and make banks return to serving the public rather than maximising profits.”

Lloyds said staff affected by its closures will be offered other roles, with no compulsory redundancies planned.

A NatWest spokesperson said: “As with many industries, most of our customers are shifting to mobile and online banking, because it’s faster and easier for people to manage their financial lives.”

“We understand and recognise that digital solutions aren’t right for everyone or every situation, and that when we close branches we have to make sure that no one is left behind.”

“We take our responsibility seriously to support the people who face challenges in moving online, so we are investing to provide them with support and alternatives that work for them.”

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