The confirmation by banking group RBS that it is to close 162 branches cross England and Wales over the last six months of 2018 has been greeted with dismay by business groups.
The North West will be hit particularly hard, with 64 closures proposed in what is becoming an ever more miserable year for the high street.
Robert Downes, the Federation of Small Businesses’ development manager for Greater Manchester and North Cheshire, said: “This fresh round of closures will hurt high streets all over the North West, but particularly in Greater Manchester, at a time when thousands of small firms are already struggling. When a bank branch goes it means less footfall, less cash in the local economy and less revenue for local small firms as a result.
“If firms can’t easily deposit takings it makes them targets for theft. Many small business owners have built up relationships with branch personnel that go back years – that’s not something that can be replaced by an app.”
“This is really disappointing. In the space of barely a week we’ve had the TSB IT fiasco, and now this. Yet again the banks are making headlines for all the wrong reasons.”
The bank said that as a result of its streamlining of the estate, around 792 roles will be made redundant. An RBS spokesman said: “We now have two branch networks operating in close proximity to each other; NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland, in England and Wales.
“As a result we have had to review our overall branch footprint in England and Wales and we’ve made the difficult decision to close a number of Royal Bank of Scotland branches. Customers of Royal Bank of Scotland in England & Wales will be able to use NatWest branches instead for their everyday banking needs.”
Branches to be closed:
Greater Manchester: Ashton-under-Lyne, Bolton Chorley Old Road, Bramhall, Bury, Cheadle Hulme, Denton, Eccles, Farnworth, Hale, Heaton Chapel, Horwich, Hyde, Ince, Middleton, Oldham, Rochdale, Sale, Salford Shopping Centre, Stockport Great Underbank, Swinton Chorley Road, Walkden
Central Manchester area: Cheetham Hill, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Gorton, Longsight, Mosley Street, Spinningfields office, Urmston, West Didsbury, Whitworth Street, Withington
Liverpool city region: Birkenhead, Bootle, Speke & Hunts Cross, Ormskirk, Runcorn, Southport Birkdale
Lancashire: Accrington, Blackburn, Blackpool Bispham, Blackpool South Shore, Burnley, Chorley, Cleveleys, Fulwood, Garstang, Lancaster, Leyland, Penwortham
Cheshire: Alderley Edge, Ellesmere Port, Handforth, Knutsford, Nantwich, Poynton, Sandbach, Warrington office
Cumbria: Barrow-in-Furness, Carlisle Castle Street, Carlisle Lowther Street, Kendal
North Wales: Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Wrexham