It is the moment we feared would come.
The NatWest bank have decided to close down their Langport branch in the Autumn. Unfortunately this was all too predictable, something we pointed out when the branch reduced its opening hours last year. It is easy to create a self fulfilling prophesy if you want to. If a service appears to be under used, cutting back the hours it is available is almost inevitably going to lead to it being used less. It is a pattern that has been used to close down bus routes and now it is proving a good mechanism for justifying bank closures.
It doesn’t seem so long ago that Langport boasted two bank branches. You can still see the last traces of the old Lloyds Bank lettering at the top of the High Street, but now the last bank in town, NatWest is to go too.
The loss of NatWest is particularly poignant as it was originally the founding branch of Stuckeys Bank, one of the original banks from which NatWest grew eventually becoming part of the Royal Bank of Scotland. And of course Walter Bagehot, Langport’s most famous son was a Director of Stuckeys Bank too. NatWest in Langport is more than a bank, it is part of the heritage of the community.
We understand the branch will close in October. Langport now joins Glastonbury in the list of communities where major banking institutions have closed the last bank in town. In Glastonbury, the Nationwide Building Society have stepped in to offer banking services from the summer of this year. It will be interesting to see if an approach is made to Nationwide to offer a similar service for Langport.