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NatWest to close nine branches across Kent

By Chris Price

NatWest is to close nine branches across Kent next summer, leaving some customers with a journey of nearly six miles to reach their nearest bank.

The lender, which is part of Government-owned RBS, said the decision was because more people are choosing to manage their finances on the web.

Mobile and online transactions increased by more 400% from 2010 to 2015, with mobile transactions alone up 1,350%.

NatWest is to close nine branches in Kent next summer

NatWest is to close nine branches in Kent next summer

The bank will close its branches in Bearsted, Borough Green, Broadstairs, Hythe, Rochester, Sandwich, Staplehurst, the University of Kent in Canterbury and Whitstable.

It said the move was a “difficult decision” and that closures would be complete by June next year.

It comes a day after the Bank of England said NatWest owner RBS would be at risk of failure in the event of another financial crisis as part of its so-called stress tests.

The number of transactions at its Rochester branch have declined by 42% since 2011, with 59% of the site’s customers moving to online or mobile banking.

However, activity at Staplehurst was only down by 18%, with less than half (49%) of its users choosing to manage their finances on the web.

The bank has closed scores of branches across Kent in recent years.

NatWest in Hythe is due to close. Picture Wayne McCabe

NatWest in Hythe is due to close. Picture: Wayne McCabe

NatWest in Rochester High Street. Pic Google Maps

NatWest in Rochester High Street. Pic: Google Maps

Around Maidstone – which has been left with sites in High Street, Sutton Road, Larkfield and West Malling – there have been closures in Marden, Coxheath, Lenham, Snodland and Headcorn in the last two years.

It has angered Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst, who has started a campaign to keep it open.

A NatWest spokesman said: “We are communicating with our customers affected by the closure and proactively contacting vulnerable and regular branch customers.

“We have listened closely to feedback from local communities and have extended the time between announcing our decision and the branch closure to six months.

“This has been done in order to ensure our customers have time to consider the right banking options for them.”

The bank has an agreement with the Post Office for customers to pay money in, take it out, check balances and get coinage.

The branch closure dates are:

Bearsted – June 5

Borough Green – June 8

Broadstairs – June 5

Hythe – May 31

Sandwich – June 7

Rochester – June 13

Staplehurst – June 13

University of Kent in Canterbury – June 14

Whitstable – June 12

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