Andrew Turner, the Island’s MP, yesterday afternoon received notice from NatWest Bank that senior executives would not be meeting him today to discuss the proposed closure of the NatWest branches at Ventnor and Sandown and the business Centre in Newport. The reason given was an unavoidable, last minute meeting on the mainland. When asked if they could reschedule for next Friday, the answer remained no, with no reason given.
The meeting had been arranged for Mr Turner to explain the damage the closure of the branches would do to local communities and ask what consideration had been given to the issues. The elderly populations of Ventnor and Sandown would be particularly affected as many are less able to get to a branch further away and also likely to be less able to access internet banking. The cost of travelling to other branches is another important issue.
After a concerted effort by local residents, co-ordinated by Stephanie Morton of Ventnor, a petition of 1289 signatures had persuaded the NatWest executives to the discussion table. Mr Turner had intended to use the meeting to plead the case for the branches to stay open and to hear what the management had to say. With this last minute cancellation, Mr Turner has been unable to put the case in person to the executives.
Mr Turner today said,
“With the strength of public feeling on this matter, I have to admit I’m shocked at the gall of the NatWest executives in cancelling this meeting at such short notice, particularly when they have given no suggestion of when it may be rearranged. It appears as though they are not prepared to answer difficult questions and the level of disrespect that it shows towards their customers is extraordinary. They are fully aware how contentious their proposals are and to simply cancel such an important meeting that has been in the diary some time is frankly, impolite at best.
It is particularly frustrating given that the taxpayer owns 84% of RBS, that in turn owns NatWest and they cancelled the meeting on the same day they announced pre- tax profits of £2 billion in the three months to September 30, compared with a £678 million loss in the previous quarter and a £1.6bn loss the previous year.
“I have today written again to the Chief Executive of Royal Bank of Scotland, Stephen Hester outlining how disappointed I am in the situation. I sincerely hope that they take immediate steps to sort this out and agree to meet me soon. For record, I can make myself available next Friday morning.”