NATWEST WILL retain a four-day presence in Saddleworth when their Uppermill branch closes on June 27.
That’s the promise of community banker Paul Geary who will be the face of NatWest when the High Street operation finally shuts.
Local speculation about the future use of the building, which is owned by the bank, is rife, with wine bar and restaurants suggested as possible replacements.
But Mr Geary insists the ATM cashpoint will be retained as part of any agreement with a future tenant or owner.
Addressing a meeting of the Greenfield and Grasscroft Residents’ Association, he confirmed his intention to hold regular drop-in events locally.
Venues have yet to be agreed but the meetings are likely to take place at Uppermill Civic Hall and the Satellite Centre, Wellington Road, Greenfield.
“Closing the branch was not a decision the bank took lightly,” he insisted. “It takes its responsibility very seriously. So, the community banker wants to support the community when the bank leaves.
“I won’t have a till or a big computer system. But what I do have is 13 years’ service.
“I have done all the roles you can possibly do within a branch and that is what you are retaining: my knowledge and my ability to help you in any situation.
“I will be spending one day in Oldham and the other four days I will be out and about in the Saddleworth area. I will not be anywhere else.”
Mr Geary added that customers can raise the limit of their cash withdrawals from the ATM and also use the facility to move money and pay bills.
The Post Office on Uppermill High Street will also allow customers to draw up to £500 and pay in cash and cheques with a bank paying-in book. Banking services are also available at all other Post Offices in Saddleworth.
Allaying fears the bank ATM could move Mr Geary added: “The bank will only sell it on as a going concern.
“The tenant who takes over the lease or takes over ownership of the building will need to take that on board.
“The tenant will be paid by the bank to keep the ATM. So, whoever comes in it is in their interests to keep it on.”
Cllr Pam Byrne, chairman of the Saddleworth Parish Council, welcomed the retention of a NatWest presence in the area but added there are still numerous issues to resolve.
“We’ve raised a number of issues with NatWest which they had not considered as they didn’t know about them,” she said.
“For example, what should we do with the large amounts of cash taken by bands and businesses on Whit Friday, or where we can sort dual signatories for clubs and societies?
“They are going to look into these and what arrangements they might be able to put in place.”
She added: “We are not going to stop the branch closing but we can do our best to get the services we need locally.
“We had banks all down the valley but one by one they have all closed.”
To get in touch with community banker Paul Geary call 07711 764056 or 03457 888444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org