The potential closure of a landmark bank in Toxteth could mean financial trouble for local shops.
The iconic NatWest bank, situated at the junction of Princes Road and Upper Parliament Street is set to close due to “falling demand” over the last year.
News of the closure has sparked dismay in the community, as the branch’s staff has a good reputation with customers from ethnic minorities who live and bank in the area, many of whom can speak little or no English.
This has generated a petition by local resident Hilary Gallagher to keep the branch open in fear of the negative impact it would have on the community. The campaign also has the backing of many faith communities in the area.
Local shop worker, Adey Diaz, from Farm Fresh, said his business uses the branch for banking. He told JMU Journalism: “If it closed we would have to use HSBC, which would mean travelling into town. This would also 100% mean we would get fewer customers to our store.
“My family and everybody I know use the bank. We go to NatWest because it is local for us. It if closes we would have to move to a different bank as we need the counter services.”
Another shop worker, who did not wish to be named, from Ali News, said the effect of the closure of the branch would not be realised until it was too late.
She told JMU Journalism: “The closure will probably draw fewer customers to the shop but we don’t know exactly what impact it will have until it happens.”
NatWest has claimed that there are other ways for people to do their banking, for example, online. However, Toxteth has one of the lowest numbers of internet users in the city. There is further concern that it is not just the counter services that NatWest will be taking away, but also the much- needed cash machine.
Beth Dockerty, a resident of Upper Parliament Street, told JMU Journalism: “The only other cash machine in the area is in the local shop and that closes of an evening. So if NatWest closes I’ll have no access to a 24-hour cash machine.
“I’ll be shocked if they do close the bank as there are no others in the area.”
A spokesman for RBS, parent company of NatWest, said: “We have advised staff and will be helping our customers to make alternative arrangements.
“We also have a range of other options that our customers can use to access their accounts. These include our NatWest mobile phone applications, online and telephone banking services and the use of any Post Office to pay bills, withdraw cash and check balances.”
Anyone wishing to sign the petition can do so at Central Pharmacy situated opposite the branch.