Council exploring possibility of attracting new bank to Southwater

JPCT 130814 S14330385x Southwater. Nat West bank -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140813-102600001
JPCT 130814 S14330385x Southwater. Nat West bank -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140813-102600001

The district council is exploring the possibility of replacing NatWest with another bank in Southwater when it shuts its branch in November.

Earlier this month the company, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, announced it would be closing the branch in Lintot Square due to the declining amount of customers using it on a regular basis.

NatWest’s decision would leave the village without a bank branch, but it said customers could withdraw cash and check balances at the Post Office, which is within the village’s Londis shop.

However Claire Vickers, one of three Horsham district councillors for Southwater, told the County Times she had asked HDC’s officers to explore leasing the premises out to another bank.

She said: “We are looking to see if another bank will go in there.

“With a growing population we think there’s a real need for a bank.

“The Post Office can’t cope with banking on top of everything else.”

While she thought the Post Office did a ‘great job’, Mrs Vickers described the demand for services there as ‘huge’.

Horsham District Council currently owns NatWest’s current premises and leases it out.

When it announced its branch closure NatWest said the transactions had fallen 28 per cent in recent years, while only 20 people used the branch on a weekly basis.

But Joyce Seaman, a retired accountant who lives off Kerves Lane and is a customer of NatWest’s Southwater branch, said she was ‘utterly flabbergasted’ by how quickly the decision to close the bank had been taken.

As a Blue Badge holder herself she felt the decision to close the branch would have the most affect on the elderly and disabled customers.

Mrs Seaman often uses the branch as part of her work for charity Tax Help for Older People, which offers expert tax advice for older people on lower incomes.