A DETERMINED former Oldham Council Leader is urging locals to join a campaign to bring a new bank to the community as NatWest stand firm over their closure decision.
Dr Richard Knowles has exchanged a series of letters with bosses at the bank since they announced their plans to close the Uppermill branch on June 27 this year.
In a fourth response from RBS Executive Office in Edinburgh, the bank confirmed they will not re-consider the closure and added “we will not be responding to any further correspondence relating to our decision.”
The closure of the branch on the village high street will leave Saddleworth without a bank, with the nearest NatWest 4.9mile away in Oldham. The ATM will remain.
Determined to fight on, Mr Knowles, who lives in Greenfield, said: “We now need a public campaign to persuade another bank to open a branch in Uppermill.”
With the help of local councillors, he is currently speaking to other banks about the possibility of opening a branch locally to serve the community.
Saddleworth Parish Council also wrote to NatWest but received a reply confirming the closure and advising customers to use Oldham branch or the post office.
In the letter, chairman Cllr Pam Byrne wrote: “We are writing to express our concern and disappointment following the announcement the branch will close in June, leaving the 30,000+ residents of Saddleworth, and the thousands of tourists who visit us each year, without a single bank.
“The 10 Saddleworth villages host over 1,000 businesses which require daily banking services.
“In addition, the highest percentage of our resident population consists of retired people, many of whom reside in specialist accommodation and who do not have private transport. These people will be the hardest hit from the decision to close the branch.
“Your decision to close the Uppermill branch will end Saddleworth’s long banking history, much to the distress of our several historical associations.”
Disappointed with the bank’s response, Cllr Byrne added: “I believe the closure of this branch has not been looked at closely enough by the bank’s powers that be.
“Uppermill is the commercial centre of Saddleworth, in the centre of the village, and its prominent and distinctive building forms part of this community.
“No good reason has been given for the closure of this branch. It would appear to be in a tranche of branches in the North West for the ‘Red Pencil’.
“Cash is still a viable commodity and this branch is used for many of these transactions, both business and personal.
“I am looking for an explanation beyond ‘We are closing this branch on June 27, 2017’ and would like to see concrete reasons and figures.”
She added: “How would it affect the NatWest if we all removed our accounts and promised them to another bank who could take over their business in Saddleworth?
“As a customer of 61 years I am not prepared to take this lying down,” she added.