BUSINESS secretary Vince Cable has told an Aldwick couple he shares their concerns about bank closures.
The leading government minister was contacted by Jane and Jim Chitty after Barclays and NatWest both revealed last month they were shutting their Rose Green branches.
Both outlets will close within three days of each other in mid-March.
As reported, Mrs Chitty has criticised the decisions which will leave the busy commercial area without any banks.
They wrote to Mr Cable with their concerns about the effect on the area caused by an absence of banks and on customers who are unable to travel to the nearest branches in Bognor Regis town centre or who do not want to use the internet.
Christine Eaton, of Mr Cable’s ministerial correspondence team at the department for business, innovation and skills, told the couple the minister was very aware of the need to keep bank branches.
“We feel strongly that the banking needs of people, particularly those who are vulnerable or in rural, isolated communities, should not be neglected,” she wrote.
“We regard it as essential, even in the context of changes to the business environment and technological change, that banks should continue to meet their wider social responsibilities.”
Mr Cable had recently written to the five main high street banks to urge them to look into keeping access to banking services for customers and to work collectively to find solutions.
“The banks have been asked how they can build on their current relationships with the Post Office Ltd to ensure that customers’ needs are met,” Ms Eaton said.
“We are pressing the banks to complete negotiations with the Post Office so that all customers have access to basic bank account facilities via the Post Office. That is a minimum requirement.
“There is also the possibility of banks thinking about sharing premises and services.”
Ms Eaton said 95 per cent of current account holders with the banks could already access their accounts at more than 11,500 Post Offices to make cash and cheque deposits and to withdraw money.
Post offices were also being maintained in communities where banks were being closed, she added.
That applies to Rose Green where both banks have said their customers can use its Post Office.