Huw Calls on NatWest to “Reconsider and Reverse” Opening Times Decision

Ogmore AM Huw Irranca-Davies has written to NatWest following their decision to change the opening hours of the Maesteg and Pencoed branches, including a total withdrawal of the Saturday service.

Letter to NatWest

Thank you for your embargoed email of 16th May, giving me notice of your decision to significantly reduce the opening times of your branches in Maesteg and Pencoed.

Clearly I wish to object to these reductions in opening hours, in my role as the Assembly Member for Ogmore, but also as a long-time customer of the bank.

In your email, you express the hope that you have managed to explain and justify the new restrictions in hours. That hope is forlorn. There is no adequate justification contained in the email,  so I would appreciate some further explanation, with detailed reasons for the reductions in opening hours at both branches.

I am not aware of any prior consultation you have carried out with your personal, business or other customers. Could you please advise me whether there has been any discussion with your customers before this decision was taken, and if not, how you justify the decision in the absence of any consultation. Discussing with them the effects of the decision is somewhat “after the horse has bolted”.

Have you considered fully the effect on those who are unlikely to make use of electronic banking, or for whom the restricted hours restrict their ability to function as a local small business. In particular, for the viability of the local high street, how will your business customers avail themselves of banking services (including deposits) at an appropriate time of the day which works safely for them and their staff? Also, have you considered fully the effect on the security of small businesses who may be required now to hold extra funds overnight?

The total withdrawal of a Saturday service is, I believe, a major sleight on local businesses and personal account holders in Pencoed and Maesteg, and I ask you to reconsider this fully. You may say that shopkeepers and others can take a short trip to Bridgend on Saturdays. I say that is unacceptable on grounds of security, convenience, and customer service.

In conclusion, I ask you to reconsider and reverse this decision, and to consult fully with your customers before bringing forward any other similar proposals which reduce the levels of service.

I am of course happy to meet you, along with representatives of the local business communities, and town and community councils who will be concerned at the effect of these proposals on the viability of our high streets, and on financial inclusion for vulnerable customers.

My kind regards,

Huw Irranca-Davies

Assembly Member for Ogmore