A public meeting on the closure of NatWest in Little Common gave local residents and traders the chance to ask questions about the loss of the village’s last bank.
It was organised by Little Common and Cooden Business Association and had a panel of NatWest representatives - Lisa Lott, Mark Clancy, and Mandy Martin - as well as Cllr Stuart Earl and Steve Fenton of Little Common post office, who will be taking on some of the bank’s transactions.
The meeting at the Royal British Legion club in Meads Avenue was chaired by the business association’s Kathy Harmer who has already expressed her anger following the announcement the branch, which is open three days a week, is to close in July.
She told the Observer: “It is a real disappointment. We are just getting somewhere with the village with no empty shops and now this. Both traders and residents are appalled that NatWest is doing this.”
She felt the meeting gave local people the chance to voice their concerns and achieve some “clarity” on how businesses will be able to function locally.
Kathy felt the bank representatives were unable to address some issues, not being “decision-makers”, and the repeated response was that more customers are doing banking online with fewer physically visiting branches.
“On that point alone we had a show of hands with about 80 percent of the public who put their hands up to show they don’t do online banking,” said Kathy.
“And two new businesses just last week opened accounts with NatWest but were not told about the closure which I think is appalling.”
She felt there was a lack of local knowledge from NatWest, such as the problems customers could face when parking in Bexhill to visit the town centre branch, and the fact residents from areas such as Normans Bay and Sidley also travel to Little Common to use the branch, and thought the bank also failed to consider the building of the new Barnhorn Green Development which will be bringing new residents to the area.
“We gave a good argument on all aspects of it, and asked - is there any chance of you rescinding this decision because you understand the impact on this local area? But they just said it was a done deal, sorry.”
Kathy found Mark Clancy had been able to inform the meeting on new arrangements for businesses and this was a help.
She added: “I don’t think it was a waste of time. I think it made people feel better because they had the opportunity to air their grievances. There are a lot of unhappy people, and this gave them the chance to get it off their chest, and it gave businesses a bit more clarity on what they are able to do.
“It’s good for the community to turn up and air their views - that’s the feedback I’m getting.”