New bank to replace NatWest on Uppermill High Street?

‘Save our bank’ campaigner Dr Richard Knowles has been snubbed by NatWest bosses in his crusade to retain Saddleworth’s last bank.

NatWest in Uppermill

But despite being told not to contact them any more, the former Mayor of Oldham is stepping up his fight to prevent the banking giant closing its Uppermill High Street branch on June 27.

He wants residents to ramp up the pressure by writing letters and emails while threatening to switch to other providers.

“Let’s hope we can embarrass NatWest into keeping the bank open or persuade another bank to take their place,” said Greenfield based Dr Knowles. “Reputational damage is what these big banks don’t want.

“I have written to Santander, Halifax, Virgin Money and Lloyds asking if they will consider opening a branch in Uppermill.

“Santander said they were very interested but not at the moment. I am awaiting replies from the other three banks.

“There are over 1,000 businesses in Saddleworth. Uppermill is the commercial centre with more than 100 business.

“This is the last bank in Saddleworth and if it closes will damage the local economy.

“It’s no use writing abusive letters. You have got to have factual letters which undermine what they have or haven’t been doing.”

Dr Knowles, who confirmed NatWest will retain an ATM at the branch, believes there are cost saving measures to be made that haven’t been considered.

“It might be controversial but we have to find ways of making it cheaper and Uppermill is over staffed,” he said.

“They have three paid counter staff and you can run a bank safely and cost effectively with two staff.”

p5 IMG_3122However, in a fourth response from RBS Executive Office in Edinburgh, the bank confirmed they will not re-consider the closure.

The decision will leave Saddleworth without a bank, with the nearest NatWest 4.9mile away in Oldham.

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 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 do not have private transport. They will be the hardest hit from the decision.”

Disappointed with the bank’s response, Cllr Byrne added: “Uppermill is the commercial centre of Saddleworth, in the centre of the village, and its prominent and distinctive building forms part of this community.

“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: “As a customer of 61 years I am not prepared to take this lying down.”

And NatWest could get the fight Dr Knowles believes they won’t relish.

A charity worker told the recent Uppermill Community Association meeting: “I don’t want to be walking round Oldham carrying £600 in cash.”

Another resident said: “It’s all very well having an ATM but how often are they going to come and fill it up?”


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