'Shortsighted' Nationwide closures will hit Northampton's elderly and small businesses hardest, say councillors
Councillors have branded a plan to close three Northampton banks "shortsighted" and have called it "devastating news" for elderly and disabled people.
Nationwide has announced it will shut three of its Northampton neighbourhood branches by October 18 this year.
The building society has pointed to dropping footfall at all three banks as the main reason for the closure, and say they are investing in other branches across the town.
But councillors from all three neighbourhoods - St Leonard's Road, Weedon Road and Kingsley Park Terrace - have criticised the plan as detrimental to local shops and are calling on Nationwide to rethink the decision.
Councillor Emma Roberts (Delapre and Briar Hill, Lab.) said: "I think it's shortsighted. There's already a real concern about the economy in the area and the removal of a high street building society is not going to help them.
"They say the bank isn't busy. I don't know what their idea of busy is but I think St Leonard's always has a healthy number of people in it.
"I know we're moving into a digital age but unfortunately our ageing population does not care about the digital age."
It comes as Nationwide also plan to close their branch in the Drapery and relocate at a larger shopfront in Abington Street to create what it calls the "Northampton Central" branch.
Meanwhile, a building society spokeswoman said the closure was the best way to "spend our members' money more wisely".
Councillor Cathrine Russell (Kingsley, Lab.) said: "Thousands of people will be without access to banking if they don't have this bank.
"Local businesses use these banks to deposit their takings every day but now they will need to travel to town while carrying hundreds of pounds in cash.
"Older people will also feel particularly vulnerable if they have to go to town for their pensions."
As a result, two petitions have been launched to "save" the three branches. One was started by county councillor Anjona Roy (St George's, Lab.) and another by the St James Residents Association.
Councillor Russell will be outside the Kingsley Park branch tomorrow morning (July 23) to collect signatures for the petition.
Director of branch network Mandy Beech told the Chron: "Any closure will have an impact on some customers more than others. This has been a difficult decision to make.
"That's why we want to encourage anyone who feels they will be affected by these closures to come and talk to us about it, by either calling us or coming to see us in branch."