NatWest bank to close nine branches across north Wales

The Conwy branch of NatWest Image copyright Google
Image caption The Conwy branch of NatWest - its closure will leave the town without a bank

NatWest bank has announced it will shut nine branches across north Wales from May next year.

Three will close on Anglesey, two in both Gwynedd and Denbighshire, one in Flintshire, while the closure in Conwy will leave it without a bank.

AMs and MPs have criticised the move, with Plaid Cymru's Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts saying she is "dismayed" by the decision.

NatWest said the rise in online banking had seen branch visit numbers drop.

In September 2015, the high street bank closed 11 branches across north Wales.

Ms Roberts said when she recently met NatWest officials, there was no mention of their intention to close the Porthmadog branch.

She added Natwest's online banking strategy failed to take into account the poor broadband service experienced in many parts of north Wales.

Plaid Cymru's Anglesey AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said: "Banks have been ripped out of our towns at an astounding rate, which shows no regard for the people who have helped banks make huge profits."

Labour's Anglesey MP Albert Owen said it was an "appalling situation" and a "phased and planned process by NatWest of withdrawing from the local communities".

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Media captionGuto Bebb says banks should think carefully if they are the last branch in a community

Politicians also expressed concern about the future of the vacated branches.

Conservative Clwyd West AM Darren Millar warned the closure could put the future of Ruthin's 615-year-old Old Court House building, in which the bank is based, at risk.

While, Tory Aberconwy MP Guto Bebb said he had arranged a meeting on Friday with NatWest senior executives "to express my dismay and the anger felt by local residents and businesses in Conwy".

A NatWest spokesman said: "The way people choose to bank with us has changed radically over the last few years.

"As a result of this change, we have seen the number of transactions in these branches decline since 2011."

It claimed the number of customers using online and mobile banking in Conwy had increased by 45%, and in Porthmadog by 48%.

Meanwhile, the number of transactions at Conwy and Porthmadog branches have reduced by 16%, in Caernarfon by 23%, and in Holyhead by 18%.

All NatWest customers will be able to use the Post Office to check balances, withdraw and pay in money and get coins, and staff will train people how to use digital banking.

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