THE Chepstow branch of NatWest will close on 7th June 2018, after the bank cited a dramatic reduction in transactions.

Since 2012, transactions in the branch have dropped by 43 per cent, with just 24 customers visiting the branch a week. NatWest says that 90 per cent of customers are already banking in other ways locally.

The move was announced after a long string of branch closures. Earlier this year the bank’s branch in Monmouth was closed, with NatWest claiming it was unviable to keep it open. Nationally, the number of customers using NatWest branches have dropped by 40 per cent, while mobile transactions have increased by 73 per cent in the same time period.

It was also announced that Natwest’s branches in Lydney and Ross-on-Wye will too close. The nearest branch to Chepstow will be Thornbury, nearly 10 miles away and the other side of the River Severn.

A spokesperson from NatWest said: “We are committed to ensuring our customers and communities are able to continue accessing quality banking services. As part of this, our new Community Banker provides customers with personal assistance and support to access our non-cash services, as well as help with achieving their financial plans and goals – replicating many of the services available in our branches. Our Community Bankers will get to know the local community, engage with local groups and provide training and education on issues such as fraud and scams protection in the local area.

“We know that not all of our customers are comfortable or familiar with using online or mobile banking, so we have created a new specialist taskforce of NatWest TechXperts who will be dedicated to supporting our customers with training and support with digital skills until the branches close.”

Customers will also be able to use NatWest’s partnership with the Post Office for a range of banking services, while a mobile branch will also be introduced. The timetable for this mobile branch will be announced early next year.

The decision has been met with disappointment, particularly from Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay.

Expressing his “dismay” at the decision. Mr Ramsay said: “We’ve already seen the loss of many branches across the country but this represents an even greater erosion of banking facilities and could have a knock-on effect on business in the town.

“Undeniably, the way people choose to bank has changed over the years, with many opting to bank online, but there are still many people who prefer face to face contact and who rely on visiting their local bank, particularly older people and small shops and businesses. Sadly, this proposed closure follows a disturbing trend of bank closures in rural communities.”

“I will be expressing my concerns to a senior regional representative from NatWest who will be visiting The Senedd on 17th January.”