More than 1,400 people sign petition against 'devastating' bank closures in South Yorkshire

More than 1,400 people have signed a petition opposing the 'devastating' closure of banks on the outskirts of Sheffield.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 22 February, 2018, 16:57
Francyne Johnson outside NatWest's Stocksbridge branch

NatWest branches in Stocksbridge, Sheffield, and in Penistone, just over the border in Barnsley, are among 259 NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland branches across the country which RBS announced in December would be closing.

RBS claims the closures are necessary due to the growth of online banking, which has resulted in fewer people visiting branches, and says customers will still be able to access many basic services at post offices in their neighbourhoods.

Angela Smith MP (second from right) receives the petition from campaigners Councillor Richard Crowther, Francyne Johnson, Councillor Joe Unsworth and Jo Newing

But campaigners fighting to save the Penistone and Stocksbridge branches say shutting the only banks in those towns would lead to long journeys for those unable to use online banking and a loss of trade for small businesses in the area.

Penistone & Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith this month presented a petition in parliament which had been signed by more than 1,400 people across the two towns opposed to the closures.

"The news that RBS had decided to close its NatWest branches in Penistone & Stocksbridge was devastating for both towns and will mean both will no longer have any banking services at all," she said.

"I hope RBS will now start to listen to local opinion and change its mind on these closures. I also hope the Government will respond positively to this petition by intervening to negotiate a stop to these closures before it is too late."

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Angela Smith MP (second from right) receives the petition from campaigners Councillor Richard Crowther, Francyne Johnson, Councillor Joe Unsworth and Jo Newing

Francyne Johnson, Labour candidate for the Stocksbridge and Upper Don ward, said: "Stocksbridge is a great town, which is really thriving, and taking away the bank when there's so much development going on seems like a really poor decision."

She added that she understands why some banks have to close but claimed Stocksbridge's large elderly population and its relative isolation meant closing its only bank would have a 'disproportionate impact'.

NatWest says it is communicating with customers about the closures, especially those who are vulnerable or are regular branch users, and it has set up a team of technical advisers to help customers improve their digital skills ahead of the closures.

NatWest customers can use post offices to access banking services including deposits, withdrawals and balance enquiries.

The NatWest branches in Stocksbridge and Penistone are due to close on June 14 and June 27 this year, respectively.

They are among nine in South Yorkshire which are listed for closure. The others are: Broomhall, Firth Park, Hillsborough, Millhouses and Woodseats, in Sheffield; Dinnington in Rotherham; and Bawtry and Thorne in Doncaster. They will all close between May 21 and June 25.