NatWest accused of 'debanking' popular town as MP fears 'people outside of cities are forgotten!'

NatWest accused of 'debanking' popular town as MP fears 'people outside of cities are forgotten!'

Sarah Dines MP said she hoped NatWest would look again at the decision to close the Bakewell bank branch

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 30/11/2023

- 12:33

Updated: 30/11/2023

- 13:13

NatWest has announced its Bakewell bank branch, in Derbyshire, will close on February 22 next year

The popular tourist town Bakewell is set to be "debanked" following the upcoming closure of its NatWest branch, which is the last remaining bank branch in the Peak District, an MP has claimed.

Sarah Dines, MP for Derbyshire Dales, told GB News she thought the closure, which was announced last week, was a "scary and arrogant" development.

The Conservative MP, who is campaigning against the bank closing, has claimed there was "no consultation" and she was not contacted about the decision.

Ms Dines told GB News presenter Camilla Tominey: "I'm very concerned. I represent the fabulous Derbyshire Dales, which is a wonderful tourist place, yes, but it also is home to a lot of elderly people and a lot of rural economic businesses.

Have you been affected by bank branch closures? If you'd like to share your story, get in touch by emailing

NatWest bank branch logo

NatWest announced more bank branch closures last week, including the Bakewell branch


"What the National Westminster Bank have done without any consultation, which isn't acceptable for a bank where the public owns 39 per cent of the shares, is they've just announced they're closing it. No consultation, That's it.

"It will leave the whole of the Peak District without a single High Street bank."

Ms Dines said 13 million people visit the Peak District, a 555 square mile national park each year, with many tourists purchasing goods from small businesses in the area.

The politician added: "They come with cash, so what do small business people do? The Derbyshire Dales is full of small entrepreneurs and a lot of them aren't very good online.

"I'm not against going online. It's great for people in the cities and it's great for people that have WiFi. Unfortunately, broadband [in the area] is not great.

"We're one of the areas where the government's having to subsidise roll out of proper services. So it's extraordinarily arrogant with respect for a big bank just to do that."

The NatWest Bakewell branch closure notice said that "with the ease of mobile and online banking", it has seen fewer people coming into the bank.

The bank said the Bakewell branch was used by six personal customers and 181 business customers on a regular basis in 2022.

In the same year, NatWest said 61 per cent of its personal customers using the branch also chose to use NatWest's online banking or mobile app service.

NatWest said they are getting in touch with customers and "engaging with the local community" to talk through their decision.

It added: "We will update this factsheet with details of who we contacted, a summary of responses - and any complaints", with the results set to be made available by February 8, 2024.

Ms Dines said her email inbox is "full" of messages from constituents about fraud cases, including from elderly people.

She said: "One lost £37,000 online and will never use online again. What do you say to my 85-year-olds, my 90-year-olds [in the constituency]?

"We really need to be proportionate about how we treat the public. The country isn't just the metropolitan bubble and even Natwest's own enquiries, which they've shown me after their decision, is that there's about 60 per cent of people who are online for banking.

"Well, that means there's 40 per cent that aren't. What are they supposed to do with their with their money? It's quite a scary and arrogant development. I'm very disappointed. I'd ask them to look at it again."

NatWest online banking on website

NatWest said 61 per cent of its personal customers using the branch also chose to use NatWest's online banking or mobile app service in 2022


Ms Dines said she hopes NatWest will reconsider the decision, adding: "Derbyshire Dales is a very special place and the Peak District, it cannot just be compared to other parts of the UK and it's almost as if the average person in the rest of the country that doesn't live in a city is almost forgotten now."

The MP raised the matter in Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons yesterday, saying: "You can imagine my horror that an entire town, Bakewell in Derbyshire Dales, is being debanked by NatWest.

“And in the whole of Derbyshire Dales and the Peak District, there isn’t a bank [branch] left. Can you share my concern please that as we are the national shareholder of NatWest, why are they ignoring my vulnerable, elderly people and also businessmen – it is a big, thriving market town.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak replied, stating that all banking customers “wherever they live should have appropriate access to banking and cash services”.

Mr Sunak added: “I know there has been an assessment on access to cash in her area and the financial services sector will provide a new cash deposit service for her community and everyone can access the Post Office for regular banking services.”

Comparing January 2019 and January 2023, counter transactions for personal customers in Bakewell have decreased by 55 per cent, NatWest said.

The closest NatWest branch to Bakewell is 12.5 miles away Chesterfield, which is around 30 minutes away by car or 54 minutes by bus, according to Google Maps.

A spokesperson for the bank said: “As with many industries, most of our customers are shifting to mobile and online banking because it’s faster and easier for people to manage their financial lives.

“We understand and recognise that digital solutions aren’t right for everyone or every situation, and that when we close branches we have to make sure that no one is left behind.

“We take our responsibility seriously to support the people who face challenges in moving online, so we are investing to provide them with support and alternatives that work for them.”

You may like