RESIDENTS in Chipping Sodbury and Winterbourne have spoken of their anger at the prospect of losing their only banks.

Chipping Sodbury’s NatWest will close its doors in May, forcing customers to travel into Yate to visit the nearest branch.

And Winterbourne is set to lose its branch in June. After that, the nearest option for customers is in Fishponds.

NatWest have claimed that the changing nature of banking has meant that fewer people now use high street branches, with around 86 per cent of Chipping Sodbury customers and 89 per cent of those from Winterbourne already banking in other ways locally.

A spokesman for the company said: “More and more of our customers are choosing to do their everyday banking online or on mobile.”

Linda Banister, co-chairman of Sodbury and Yate Business Association, said: “The bank’s closure will have a massive negative impact on local businesses and footfall, including visitors, into Chipping Sodbury.

“We are trying to promote business in the town and the lack of banking facilities is a backwards step.

“Local residents will find it a real problem too.”

Yate and Thornbury MP Luke Hall and Councillor Rob Creer are planning to meet with NatWest to see if there is anything that can be done to prevent the closure.

They are also keen to ensure that the High Street’s last 24 hour cash point stays if the closure does go ahead.

Luke Hall said: “This news is very disappointing for the town especially when Natwest makes claims to never leave an area without over the counter services.

“Our High Street is highly and wonderfully independent trader focused, with many depending on footfall and cash purchases, so I will be pressing extremely hard for Natwest to guarantee the cashpoint for the town if they decide to go ahead with the closure.”

Cllr Rob Creer said: “It is ridiculous that a thriving town with so many local shops, restaurants and pubs will be left with no banking services and no 24 hour cashpoint.”

“This move will be extremely damaging to Chipping Sodbury’s economy, and will have a negative impact on residents and visitors to our town.”

In a statement a spokesman for NatWest said: “We are following the Access to Banking Standard and we have made our decision after careful consideration of a wide range of factors including changes in customer usage of the branches over a long period of time; how often customers are using the branches and the types of transactions they undertake; the number of customers who only bank via the branches; and the other ways our customers can bank locally.”

He added that at people will still be able to access banking services at post office branches in Chipping Sodbury and Winterbourne, where they will be able to pay money in, take money out, check balances. Business customers will be able to get coinage there too.

Natwest, which is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) group, will see 197 of its branches closed while 62 RBS facilities will also be shut at the cost of 680 jobs.

Natwest also has branches in Thornbury and Yate, but these will not be affected.

The spokesman said: “We expect these branch closures to result in around 680 redundancies.

“We realise this is difficult news for our colleagues and we are doing everything we can to support those affected.

“We will ensure compulsory redundancies are kept to an absolute minimum.”