MP Debbie Abrahams joins calls for NatWest in Uppermill to stay open

A DETERMINED MP has added her voice to cries for NatWest Bank to reverse their decision to close their Uppermill branch in June 2017.

MP Debbie Abrahams

In early December, the banking giant announced the branch on the village high street will shut on 27 June 2017 due to increasing numbers of people banking online.

It follows frustration earlier in the year when NatWest closed the branch on Wednesdays and reduced its opening times to 9.30am to 4.30pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Barclays Bank in Lees also closed its doors in November – meaning the nearest bank in Oldham to Saddleworth residents is 4.9miles away in the town centre.

The latest news has been met with disappointment by residents and businesses as well as a promise from councillors to battle to keep the branch open.

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, who was involved in trying to prevent Barclays from closing in Lees, has joined the campaign to keep the Uppermill branch open.

She said: “Hot on the heels of Barclays deciding to desert their customers in Lees, NatWest’s announcement is yet another blow for Saddleworth residents who need convenient access to a local bank.

The sign in the Uppermill branch

“NatWest’s own statistics show that 40 per cent of their customers at the branch are not yet using digital banking technology and these are likely to be the people who need access to a local branch the most.

“The global financial crash of 2008 did little to improve the reputation of the banking industry and this latest development only tarnishes their reputations even more on a local level.

“I have written to NatWest, urging them to think again and reverse their decision to close the Uppermill branch.”

Meanwhile, at the December meeting of the Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership chair Cllr Adrian Alexander also promised they will hold a cross party demonstration against the decision.

He said: “We are determined to come up with a constructive plan to open discussions with the bank. We are not going to be pushed or cajoled into anything.

“There are big issues here involving businesses and the elderly needing which require careful discussion and consideration.”

Cllr Jamie Curley said: “By going into a branch, you get the personal experience and help. We would lose that facility completely for Saddleworth residents.”

Cllr Graham Sheldon added: “We can try out best to oppose this but I still think it will close.”

Saddleworth Parish Council chair Cllr Pam Byrne is already demanding an explanation from bank chiefs.

She said: “Where is the consideration for their customers? I am prepared to lead the charge to get a full explanation.”

Businesses in Uppermill have already expressed concerns over the loss of the bank citing problems including the collection of large amounts of change and making cash deposits.

“Travelling into Oldham to carry out transactions in just not a satisfactory option,” said one business owner.


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