NatWest have used the falling use of the Langport branch to justify closing it down in October this year. Figures from NatWest suggest usage has fallen by 21%.
So it is especially interesting to recall that from last July the opening hours at the bank were changed. As we reported at the time “Currently the NatWest branch on Langport’s Cheapside is open from 9.00am to 4.30pm from Monday to Friday. From 25th July that will be slashed to 10.00am to 3.00pm.” Now I am not a mathematician but by my numbers that is reduction in opening hours from 37.5 hours a week to 25 hours. Now a fall of 12.5 hours represents a 33.3% loss of banking time.
The fact that NatWest claims use of the bank has fallen by just 21% suggests that actually the use of the bank per available hour has actually gone up.
Of course that is not the point. NatWest want the bank to close and the most effective way of closing a branch is to make it less useful to people and the best way to do that is to reduce opening hours. Meanwhile the Langport Area Business Group has also expressed disappointment with the decision. John Rice-Lewis, LABG Chairman told us “it is certainly disappointing to hear that our local bank branch is going to be closing, as it has always been extremely well used and has been a vital part of the local community for hundreds of years. Given how busy it is, I feel NatWest is out of touch with customers who want a high-street presence. Langport is a vibrant place full of independent businesses and whilst losing its last bank is a loss to the town, there are good alternatives being put in place to ensure that a resilient Langport continues to prosper and grow.”
And as we mentioned yesterday, the bank in Langport is more than just a bank, it is part of British banking heritage, the founding branch of Stuckeys Bank that was to become a founder bank of Nat West. This is not just a matter of inconveniencing local people, it shows a philistinism that is perhaps only to be expected from a large corporate whose idea of culture appears to extend little beyond taking rich London clients to the opera.