Another blow to rural banking as opening hours slashed
HIGH street banking in Powys has taken another blow with giants NatWest slashing the opening hours of two of its branches.
The bank, which is part of the government owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), will cut the opening hours of its Builth Wells branch to just eight hours a week.
The West Street bank is currently open for 20 hours a week and only closed on Wednesdays and weekends but from August will only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The opening hours of the Hay-on-Wye branch will also be reduced from August to 12 hours a week. The Oxford Road branch will only open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It currently opens every week day and is only closed on weekends.
Politicians have raised concerns, with Brecon and Radnorshire’s Conservative MP Chris Davies saying he feared further bank closures.
Welsh Assembly Member for Brecon and Radnorshire, Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams, said people in rural areas are not always able to use alternatives such as mobile and internet banking.
HSBC closed its Builth and Rhayader branches in March while NatWest closed its branch at Crickhowell last year. Barclays also closed its Llanwrtyd Wells branch in 2015.
NatWest has said it is committed to following the UK Government protocol on significant opening hour changes and had considered branch usage and alternative ways of banking in reaching its decisions.
Cashpoints will remain at both branches while customers will be able to pay money in, check balances from the Post Office where businesses will also be able to get cash.
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