NATWEST has announced three additional branch closures in Dorset.

The banking giant is to close its Blandford branch on August 2, the Bournemouth branch in Castlepoint on August 8, its Christchurch branch in High Street on August 16.

NatWest said the decision to close its branches was because of a decrease in counter transactions between 2019 and 2022 – with more people choosing to bank online. 

The company said just five people regularly used the Christchurch bank in 2021 and just 11 used the Castlepoint branch. In Blandford, the bank maintained there were ZERO regular customers using the branch in 2021.

Dorset Echo: NatWest in Castlepoint will close on August 8NatWest in Castlepoint will close on August 8 (Image: Daily Echo)

She added: “As with many industries, most of our customers are shifting to mobile and online banking, because it’s faster and easier for people to manage their financial lives.   

“We understand and recognise that digital solutions aren’t right for everyone or every situation, and that when we close branches we have to make sure that no one is left behind.

“We take our responsibility seriously to support the people who face challenges in moving online, so we are investing to provide them with support and alternatives that work for them.” 

Dorset Echo: NatWest in Christchurch will close on August 16NatWest in Christchurch will close on August 16 (Image: Google Maps)

The company acknowledged closures can be a “worry” for those who are not familiar with online banking but stressed it has a dedicated support line for its over-60s customers to call, with a shorter waiting time.

Cllr Lisa Northover, ward councillor for Muscliff and Strouden Park where the Bournemouth branch is, said the closure will make it “harder and harder” for elderly people to access banking services. 

She said: “It’s okay for those accessing normal things, such as checking your balance, but when things go wrong, such as suspected fraud, you want to speak with someone face to face.” 

Dorset Echo: Cllr Mike Cox said the closure was a disasterCllr Mike Cox said the closure was a disaster (Image: BCP Council)

Cllr Mike Cox said the closure of NatWest in his Christchurch Town ward was “a bit of a disaster” for local residents and traders. 

He said: “The number of branches that are closing is becoming more regular. In the past I have called for the council to arrange for a community hub in which people can meet face to face and do their banking.” 

NatWest has already closed two other branches in Poole this year, including one in Lower Blandford Road, Broadstone in January and its Upper Parkstone one in March – the latter being used by only one customer regularly in 2021. 

NatWest, the UK’s second biggest lender, said the vast majority of its retail banking services can be done digitally and it is the quicker and easier way to bank.