AS NATWEST in Uppermill prepares to close this month, new community banking measures coming into place for residents have been confirmed.
The high street branch – the last bank in Saddleworth – will shut for the last time at 4.30pm on Tuesday, June 27 after NatWest said increasing numbers of people are banking online.
To ensure some facilities are still available to locals, community banker Paul Geary will be in Saddleworth throughout the week to deliver a ‘package of measures’.
The community banker will be at The Satellite Centre, Wellington Road in Greenfield, on Mondays for private appointments from 1-2pm then an open drop-in session from 2-4pm.
Then he will be based at the Civic Hall on Tuesdays from 9am-12.30pm and Fridays from 1-4pm, with private appointments available again.
Mr Geary explained: “I will be giving a non-advice service. I can give factual information to customers and help them look at the best options for their banking.
“Everyone can come to the open drop-in sessions. If I can speak to more people all at once in a group setting that is often better than one home visit.
“Sometimes people don’t want to ask a question, or a lot of people have the same question so it works better to see everyone together.
“Or people can book a private appointment if they need to speak to me about something in a more private surrounding.
“If somebody is in a vulnerable situation or can not get out of their house then part of my role is to help those customers so they can sort their banking.”
But he advised: “The message is to make sure people phone me first to make sure I’m
there at the session on a particular day.
“On certain occasions such as if the snow comes and I can not actually get here, or if I’m away on holiday, there is no one else who can fill in.”
Individuals will be able to use Post Offices across Saddleworth for transactions, including withdrawing up to £500 cash, and paying in cash and cheques (paying-in slip required).
Businesses should speak to their NatWest business team to discuss any questions or concerns over their arrangements.
Mr Geary confirmed the NatWest ATM is staying at this moment in time and will be part of the negotiations with whoever takes over the building.
He continued: “Statistics show something major happens in people’s finances every 12 months. So I can do a financial health check of their accounts.
“I can answer most questions on mortgages having previously sold them in the past. But when it comes to processing it they need to go to a special mortgage advisor in a branch.
“I can make an appointment for them to do that either face-to-face in branch or I can arrange a call back at a time which suits the customer.
“That applies for other things like savings accounts and loans, and we also have a video banker who can help set up things like that.
“I can also support people who are using online banking or the banking application on phones or tablets, and show them how to check statements and do transfers and payments.”
On Thursdays, rather than being based at one spot, Mr Geary will move around the community dependent on where people would like to see him.
“I’ve already spent a lot of time going around to community groups, coffee mornings and meeting people to answer their questions, and I’ll continue doing that,” he said.
Mr Geary will also be running events including anti-scamming sessions, to help people spot a scammer and know how to protect themselves, family and friends.
Responding to recent suggestions of bringing mobile banking to Saddleworth, he said: “Mobile banking is something the bank constantly reviews but in the Uppermill area it is not something that is currently available.
“I can not say how that will change over years to come but with Uppermill Post Office and NatWest branches in Oldham and Ashton available, there is not the facility currently for mobile banking.”
As for the future of the bank building, Mr Geary confirmed that lies in the hands of the bank’s property department, with any deals being commercially sensitive at this time.
To contact community bank Paul Geary call: 07711 764056 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org