Having requested a meeting with the Chief Executive of NatWest bank following the recent announcement of local branch closures, Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards met with senior representatives of the bank in Westminster last week.
The meeting came after NatWest announced it was closing its branches in Ammanford and Llandeilo. Mr Edwards told representatives that whilst two of the branch closures were in his constituency, the closure of branches in Lampeter and Cardigan would also impact upon his constituents throughout the Teifi area.
In the meeting the NatWest representatives confirmed that public consultation was not something they would consider, and stressed how the number of customers using the branches had declined substantially as more people use telephone and internet banking.
Immediately following the meeting Jonathan Edwards asked the Chair of the Commons Treasury Select Committee to consider an inquiry into whether the UK Treasury was acting properly by allowing these bank closures, and to examine what affect the branch closures has had on financial exclusion.
The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP said the Westminster Government needed to urgently commit to supporting a strong post office network to provide the day-to-day banking services that customers need. The Plaid Cymru representative also called for a wider examination of the availability of free ATMs so customers can access their own money without having to pay a charge.
Jonathan Edwards MP said:
"I must confess my disappointment at the meeting with NatWest.
"It was certainly positive to get assurances that staff will be supported, that a mobile bank will be available for customers each week, and to understand how they will work over the next few months to contact individual customers, with a particular focus on elderly customers, to help understand what additional help they require to access banking services.
"I am nevertheless disappointed that NatWest won't consider a public consultation or reconsider its decision. Big commercial banks are happy to turn to the taxpayer when they need us, but turn their backs on us when it suits them. The UK banking model has failed.
"The Westminster government must now urgently commit to supporting a strong post office network to provide the day-to-day banking services that customers need. With close to 200 branch closures in Wales over the last 6 years, we cannot have a situation whereby banks depend on the post office only to see those post office services undermined by the government.
"Over the Christmas recess I will be working with colleagues to advance the community banking model concept that rural Wales so desperately needs so that our economy and communities don't have to depend on the selfish actions of London banks in future."