South Bank's RBS branches to close, but Hull escapes the axe

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 1 May 2018

GRIMSBY and Scunthorpe's Royal Bank of Scotland branches are to close, it has been confirmed.

The financial institution, still 72 per cent owned by the taxpayer, said the move was linked to its decision not to sell its Williams & Glyn 'challenger bank' business.

As a result, the group - which includes NatWest – owns branches close together, and is seeking to reduce overlap.

In Grimsby NatWest is just yards further down Victoria Street’s pedestrianised area, and in Scunthorpe it is even closer - 10 doors away on the same block at the start of the pedestrianised High Street.

Hull's RBS has been spared, despite NatWest and RBS - separated by Queen Victoria Square - a third of a mile apart. 

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RBS said: “Following a review of the branch network in England and Wales a decision has been taken to close 162 Royal Bank of Scotland branches.

“As a result of this process, around 792 roles will be made redundant, and we will seek to support our colleagues with the option to leave on a voluntary basis.”

Grimsby is one of a total of 109 branches that will close on July 31, with Scunthorpe having been given the date of August 14. Both are in the first tranche, as those with NatWest branches the nearest. 

Grimsby, Hull and Scunthorpe branches. 

Of the decision to reduce the branch network, the spokesperson added: “We are no longer launching Williams & Glyn as a challenger bank, and 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 will be able to use NatWest branches instead for their everyday banking needs.”

Flagging up changing banking habits, the business said that since 2012, 67 per cent of Grimsby customers already bank in other ways locally. Transactions have reduced by 49 per cent in the past six years, with only 63 customers now visiting the branch on a regular weekly basis.

It comes after it posted a pre-tax profit of £1.2 billion for the first quarter of 2018, exceeding 2017's full year earnings.

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Grimsby MP Melanie Onn, who was written to by RBS to confirm the closure, described it as “dreadful news”. “Another empty building in the town centre, another reduction in banking facilities in the town,” the Labour frontbencher said. 

It will leave another gaping hole in the town centre, recently revealed to the be the fourth worst in a survey undertaken in the first half of 2017. Close to the vacated BBC Radio Humberside studios on the Riverhead-fronting section of Victoria Street, two huge units on Riverhead are also empty, though there are hopes the new cinema build will stimulate lettings.

Awkwardly for the property owner, it is on the market as an investment opportunity, who will now have to find a new tenant once the lease with RBS expires or a break comes up.

Ms Onn has been assured the bank will be “proactively contacting our vulnerable customers to let them know about these changes as soon as possible” and will allow plenty of time to give them the help and support they will need. 

A spokesperson said: “We know that not all of our customers are comfortable or familiar with using online or mobile banking, so we have created a new specialist taskforce of Royal Bank of Scotland TechXperts who will be dedicated to supporting our customers with training and support with digital skills – as well as other ways of banking – until the branch closes.” 

For more details for personal and business customers, visit the RBS site, where details for each individual branch are given.

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