Rethink urged by council on banks axe

BANK bosses have been told some one in three Aldwick residents do not use the internet.

This lack of access to online banking means the closure of the two bank branches at Rose Green could cut them off from financial services.

The claims were made by Aldwick Parish Council ahead of a meeting tomorrow between Barclays Bank and Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb, joined by parish councillor Lillian Richardson.

The Barclays branch on Nyetimber Lane will close on March 13. The nearby NatWest branch, in Rose Green Road, shuts on March 16. Mr Gibb will be meeting its managers soon.

Councillors backed Cllr Richardson’s presence at the meeting at their meeting on Tuesday and re-stated their aim of getting the banks to reverse their closures.

In a letter to the banks, parish council clerk Sue Batey told them: “We have been approached by a significant number of local residents and businesses who are extremely concerned that there will be no banking facilities available to them in the local area.

“Banks have a responsibility to treat customers fairly and we believe it is unfair that a significant proportion of our community will not have access to much-needed banking services if Barclays and NatWest close your Rose Green branches. Within the Aldwick parish, there are 9,685 residents, of which 3,767 are aged 65 and over – or 39 per cent.”

This percentage should be considered in relation to an Ofcom report from 2013 about the use of the internet.

“You will note from this,” Mrs Batey said, “that 52 per cent of the population aged 65-74 do not use the internet and 84 per cent aged 74 and over also do not use the internet.

“Within these age brackets alone, this translates to nearly 30 per cent of our community who do not use or have access to the internet that are at risk of being cut off from vital face to face banking services.”

At the younger end of the age scale, she said a further seven per cent of the area’s residents – aged 25-64 years old – could also potentially be at risk from losing their banking services because they did not use the internet.

“In total, this is nearly 40 per cent of our community,” Mrs Batey said.

Mr Gibb has said he wanted the banks to look at the cost of their branches in relation to their large profits. The expenses of keeping the premises open was a tiny proportion of the money they made.

Willowhale Farm Residents’ Association protested outside Barclays earlier this month against the closure.

John Bass, the association’s founder, said: “These closures will not only affect the elderly but all ages and businesses in Rose Green.

“We hope one of the branches will stay open.”