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Ipswich branch to close as Royal Bank of Scotland announces more closures

PUBLISHED: 17:06 05 September 2018 | UPDATED: 18:33 05 September 2018

The RBS branch in Princes Street, Ipswich which is to close

The RBS branch in Princes Street, Ipswich which is to close

Archant

The Ipswich branch of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is among the latest batch of closures announced by the bank.

The RBS branch in Princes Street, Ipswich which is to closeThe RBS branch in Princes Street, Ipswich which is to close

The Ipswich branch of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is among the latest batch of closures announced by the bank.

RBS has been branded “utterly disgusting” for swinging the axe on the 54 branches, and the 258 job losses that this will entail.

The lender, still 62% owned by the taxpayer, said the move was linked to it not having to sell its Williams & Glyn business.

As a result, the group has branches in close proximity to each other and is seeking to reduce overlap.

Over the last two years, towns across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex have seen branch closures including Bungay, Halesworth, Southwold, Woodbridge, Beccles, Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn and Cromer.

An RBS spokesman said: “As we are no longer launching Williams & Glyn as a challenger bank we now have two branch networks operating in close proximity to each other in England and Wales - NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland.

“As a result we have reviewed our overall branch footprint in England and Wales and have made the difficult decision to close 54 Royal Bank of Scotland branches. Customers of Royal Bank of Scotland in England and Wales will be able to use NatWest branches and local post offices for their everyday banking needs.”

The latest wave of closures comes on top of the closing of 162 branches of RBS announced earlier this year, which resulted in 792 job losses.

The branches affected included Bury St Edmunds, Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn.

Customers at the Ipswich branch spoke of the impact on their daily lives of the closure.

Kamil Szajlikowska, a 25-year-old dental nurse from Poland who lives in the Castle Hill area of Ipswich, said the closure would be a problem for her employer.

“Then we will have to find somewhere else to bank. I think the bigger issue is for town centre shops, as people will have less reason to come into town anymore,” she said.

Tom Ridley, 60, of Woodbridge, said: “I think banks have a moral obligation to their customers to remain open. Older people need that contact. I do internet banking, and I only tend to go to the bank now for things that are out of the ordinary, like getting currency out before I go on holiday. But my 90-year-old mother still likes to go to the bank regularly, and she’s never used the internet before. This closure will really affect her.”

Unions reacted with fury to the news, describing the decision as a hammer blow to the disabled and elderly.

Rob MacGregor, of union Unite, said: “It is utterly disgusting that Royal Bank of Scotland has the audacity to announce that yet more important local bank branches will permanently close their doors.

“This announcement heaps further misery on communities across England and Wales that have already seen the demise of local banking services as branches that were signposted by the bank earlier in 2018 as an alternative for customers whose branches were closing, now suffering a similar fate.

“The disabled, elderly and many local businesses will today be deeply disappointed that their bank has chosen to withdraw from their community and no longer provide them with the access to banking services which we all deserve.”

Last year, RBS avoided the compulsory sale of Williams & Glyn, which had been ordered by regulators as part of the bank’s obligations under state aid rules following its £45bn government bailout at the height of the financial crisis.

Instead, RBS will put up money to be shared among so-called “challenger banks” to help them better compete with bigger players.

The closures will come as RBS reintegrates Williams & Glyn, including its branch network, back into the core bank.

RBS also pointed out that since 2014, branch transactions across its English and Welsh operations are down 30%, while there has been a 53% increase in the number of customers using mobile banking, and mobile transactions have increased by 74%.

“We will now focus on investing in our Royal Bank network in England and Wales to make sure customers have a consistent range of products and services wherever they bank, be it Scotland, England or Wales,” the lender’s spokesman added.

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