Story sponsored by Wainwright Stump Removal: www.wainwrightstumpremoval.co.uk
Reporter: Stuart Littleford
Following the recent announcement of the closure of Saddleworth’s last remaining high street bank branch Parish Councillor Jamie Curley has moved to secure Community Banking for Saddleworth residents.
Councillor Curley has been working with the regional team from NatWest on a plan which will see both counter transactions and personal banking services retained in Uppermill.
The plan will involve normal counter transactions being available at Uppermill Post Office on High Street which will handle cash, cheque and change handling transactions. Personal banking customers will also be getting a real personal service from Community Banker Paul Geary who will be contacting existing customers in the run up to the branch closure to ensure that they will be able to access all the services they need.
Cllr Curley told Saddleworth News: “I’m really pleased that we have the commitment from NatWest to stay within the community, and working with local CEO Paul Davies, Oldham Linkage Manager Janet Gardner and Community Banker Paul Geary I’m confident we can provide the broad range of banking services Saddleworth residents require.”
Paul Geary said: “I’m available at any time a customer needs me either in branch or in our new location which is likely to be the Civic Hall. I am also able to visit customers at home if they need me to discuss any aspects of their personal banking and give any advice on setting up on-line banking, direct debits, transfers and the like.
“This is a strictly personal banking service to ensure all our customers are catered for and we will not be using this as a way to sell additional services.
“I will be available as often and at whatever times people need as I would be in a normal branch. Additionally we are always looking to support local projects who may be looking for sponsorship.”
Local CEO Paul Davies said: “The ATM will remain contrary to recent reports that it was to be removed I would like to reassure people that this was never in the plan and we communicated this to all customers back in February, we can reassure all our business customers that facilities will still be available for them in Saddleworth to make counter transactions and all other services they may need. If any business customers have any questions or worries they shouldn’t hesitate to contact me to out any issues.”
Cllr Curley said: “I have asked the team to present the plan to the Saddleworth District Partnership at the next meeting and they readily agreed. Linkage Manager Janet Gardner and the team will also be attending the Saddleworth Community day on Sunday April 2 at the Civic Hall to give advice, show the latest services available, discuss the new arrangements and show the latest antifraud campaign.”
Janet Gardner said: “While we cannot retain the Branch building we will ensure that all the services people need will be available within the community.”
Customers who may be nervous about using online banking will also get dedicated help from Digital Banking expert Luke Smith who will be working closely with Paul Geary to help people get online and use the latest and most secure banking applications.
Local CEO Paul Davies emphasised that providing as many services as people need will be a priority and he is grateful for the assistance of the Parish Council in setting up the new arrangement and providing premises for the community banking operation. The new community operation will be available as often as people feel they need it and while the exact details of the availability have yet to be finalised.
Cllr Curley concluded by saying “he would work constructively” with Paul, Janet and the team so they can retain as much of the services in Saddleworth as people need and this will mean people will not have to make the trip into either Oldham or Ashton to do their banking as previously feared.
He said he knew the branch closure has been a great concern to many people including himself as a customer but this plan will hopefully give the community a range of services retained in Saddleworth in the absence of any other provider seeming to come forward.