THE last in a string of banks which once dominated a busy Eastbourne road is to close – leaving locals with a trek in to town to do their banking.
The branch of NatWest at 81 Seaside is following in the footsteps of Lloyds, Barclays and HSBC and turning its back on the street, with staff set to shut up shop next month.
And the fear locally is that not only will customers now have to head to the town centre to use a bank, but that the building will remain empty – just like the other former banks on Seaside.
According to the area’s councillor, Steve Wallis, the NatWest on the corner of Seaside and St Aubyn’s Road is well-used and its closure will have a host of repercussions for local businesses.
He said, “Having spoken to many local businesses and residents I share their concerns regarding the closure of this bank. With the loss of other banks, along with the post office, the area has seen a reduction in footfall, as well as causing massive inconvenience to those who rely on these smaller, out of town centre, branches.
“This is a real body blow for the area and I will be discussing with colleagues on how best to deal with this bad news.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Behnoush Ourangi, who owns The Seaside Store. He is one of those who will now have to make alternative arrangements for banking cash at the end of the day.
He said, “This bank was very handy for me as a local shopkeeper, with its closure I will have to seek alternative arrangements, which will not be good for my business.”
And Jane Dubery, head of a local community group and regularly customer of the bank, said, “The bank will be missed by many and I cannot see how its closure will assist in all the efforts being made to improve the area.
“There are already a number of empty shops and with the loss of this vital amenity I fear for the future regarding this part of the town.”
The town’s MP, Stephen Lloyd is also distraught at the prospect of Seaside losing yet another business – particularly one which is considered so key in supporting neighbouring ventures.
He has written to the chief executive of NatWest to voice concerns over the closure, “These are tough economic times and banks play a vital role in assisting smaller businesses. I fail to see how NatWest pulling out of Seaside will help those who are dependent on their services, be they users or employees.”