MP blasts bank closure plan as ‘terrible blow’

Sir Edward Leigh, who is strongly opposed to the NatWest closure plans for Gainsborough.
Sir Edward Leigh, who is strongly opposed to the NatWest closure plans for Gainsborough.

Controversial plans to close the branch of NatWest Bank in Market Place, Gainsborough have been strongly opposed by the town’s MP.

Sir Edward Leigh says the closure would be “a terrible blow” to Gainsborough and has written a letter of objection to Sir Howard Davies, the chairman of NatWest.

“Gainsborough is a growing and important urban centre and one that would benefit from retaining its NatWest branch,” Sir Edward said.

“Towns like Gainsborough are facing growing pressures, but also opportunities. In particular, it has featured redevelopments, like Marshall’s Yard, which have brought life and business into the town.

“Gainsborough is expected to see economic growth of 12 per cent in future years, supported by an increase in housing of 47 per cent. The town will move from a modest population of about 20,000 to in excess of 30,000.”

If the Market Place branch closes, there will be no NatWest banks remaining in Sir Edward’s constituency, which he has represented for almost 35 years. Both the branches in Caistor and Market Rasen have also shut.

NatWest says the closures reflect a drop in demand for its traditional services. Instead more and more people are happy to manage their personal banking online.

However, the veteran MP pointed out that while he accepted branch banking was in decline, many of Gainsborough’s older residents, who were less likely to use internet banking, preferred face-to-face contact.

In his letter to Sir Howard, he requests that the decision is revisited and also ask for a meeting with the NatWest boss to discuss the ,atter.

“I object most strongly to this decision,” he writes. “The branch is in a good and prominent position and gets a lot of business, as well as foot traffic.

“This change will create a great inconvenience for my constituents and will have a particularly negative impact on older people.

“It would be in the mutual interests of both NatWest and the residents and workers of Gainsborough for this branch to remain open, and I hope you will revisit this decision immediately.”