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Bank confirms Marple closure

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Royal Bank of Scotland Marple Market Street Romiley Disley Hazel Grove Chapel en le Frith

In a letter to customers, RBS has confirmed its Market Street branch will close in January, along with those at Romiley, Disley, Hazel Grove and Chapel-en-le-Frith. The Stockport Great Underbank office is scheduled to close in November and Hyde has already gone.

Coming after a series of Natwest closures (Natwest is part of the RBS Group) which has seen the demise of the Marple, Romiley and New Mills branches, the news is being greeted with both surprise and anger. Customers have been left exasperated after contacting an RBS 'Area Director' who didn't seem to have a full grasp of the local situation.

RBS states that customers will be able to use its online or telephone banking services, but some smaller businesses dealing in cash believe they will be hit particularly hard by the move. Concerns have been raised about the elderly, especially those dealing with dementia who may be unable to change their arrangements. Following recent well-publicised problems with IT in the banking sector, a degree of trepidation is perhaps justified. The closure will leave only one bank remaining in Marple.

The bank has suggested customers requiring a counter service can use the Post Office as an alternative for most transactions, or travel to the NatWest branch at Hazel Grove. However, many customers feel these options are not appropriate, citing travelling time, congestion, parking and concerns over privacy as potential problems.

In 2015 an industry-wide agreement was signed by the high street banks to work with customers and communities to minimise the effects of branch closures. Under the Access to Banking Standard laid down by the British Bankers Association (now UK Finance):

“Banks are committed to supporting access to banking and financial inclusion in the community, aligning with HM Government's public policy objectives, by:

Offering an alternative way to bank that helps customers and small businesses to continue to bank locally; and rebuilding trust and confidence in the sector.”

Given the sheer scale of local closures and the unsuitability of what is being offered as an alternative, it appears that the commitment has not been properly met. In a speech in the House of Commons, William Wragg MP called for a debate on the matter, stating:

“The bank closure protocol isn't working, especially when banks close branches that they previously said would remain open to mitigate the loss of others.”

Ten years ago, following a period of expansion under the guidance of Sir Fred Goodwin et al, it was necessary for RBS to be rescued from collapse by a taxpayer-funded injection of £45.5 Billion. As at June 2018, 62 per cent* of RBS Ordinary Shares were owned by the UK Government.