IN A BLOW TO LOCAL TRADITION, the bank popular with the cash traders of Ridley Road Market and nearby small businesses has closed.
A small notice on the building in Kingsland High Street advised customers to use NatWest branches in Stoke Newington and Amhurst Road, each more than 1km away.
Some stalls and shops see the loss of the busy facility as just another assault on the market, which dates from the 1880s. Others worry about website security and some express a weary powerlessness in the face of being pushed to bank on line.
Watchmaker Variety Time, owner of Salim Kassam, in the market, said: “I’ve been using NatWest for 35 years and I am dismayed at the abrupt closure of the branch. It was so convenient for the market traders.”
Ridley Road traders’ leader Larry Julian was not bothered. He said: “I’d rather see Marks and Spencer come back to the area, as it says it is with a food market, because that will bring more customers to Dalston.”
NatWest personal banking media relations manager Sean Palmer told Loving Dalston: “When we close a branch, we look at local factors. Transactions in the Dalston branch have fallen by 20% over the last five years and mobile/online have risen by 400%.
“We offer techsperts [sic] in every branch in the country to offer help with going on line.”
Asked about other closures in Hackney, he said: “Whenever we decide on a closure, we always tell our staff and customers first.” Dalston branch account-holders were notified ahead of closure.
NatWest Dalston lessened its service to the public when it reduced opening times in the months before closing, even though it was hugely in debt to UK taxpayers, who bailed out Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest’s owner, in 2008 after a series of disastrous loans, bad deals and dubious practices.
In 2016 when it reported yet another loss — of £2 billion — it paid chief executive Ross McEwan £3.8 million.
David Altheer 041017
* NatWest (0345 788 8444) continues, for the present, at 196 High Street, Stoke Newington N16 7GA (), and 20 Amhurst Road, Hackney E8 1JW
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