MARLBOROUGH Mayor Mervyn Hall says he fears for the future of the town’s banks after NatWest announced it was to close its branch in the High Street.

On June 18 next year, the banking giant will cease to operate in the town centre, meaning NatWest customers will have to travel 12.1 miles to get to the nearest branch in Swindon.

The closure, which was made as transactions in the branch have reduced by 50 per cent since 2012, will leave Marlborough with counter services from three other major banks, including Lloyds, Nationwide and Barclays.

Cllr Hall, however, is deeply concerned that this could be the start of a domino effect as on top of the proposed NatWest closure, HSBC shut up shop in May for good.

“I really fear for the future of the banks in Marlborough. This will mean two banks will close in just over a year, which is worrying,” he said.

“I think it was inevitable this would happen as its hours had already been reduced.

“What is worrying is that when banks close, their ATMs tend to close too, as is the case in Pewsey.

“This will badly hit the elderly in Marlborough, who may not have internet banking.

“Also the town has a lot of shops for retail and people need cashpoints to help them with that.

“The situation is okay as we still have three banks left but I really worry that this is part of a growing trend of shutting branches.

“In a short period of time we have gone from five banks and that will fall to three.

“Some services are transferred to the post office but people will know that the queues there, which can already be long, will only get worse.”

In total 680 staff members are expected to lose their jobs as 197 branches of NatWest shut across England and Wales and 62 RBS locations will close in Scotland.

Bob Holman, of The Marlborough High Street Retailers’ Association, added: “The reason that NatWest has gone down so much in terms of its usage, is that they are only open three days a week. If it is open for less time, less people will go, it is quite simple.

“This is horrible news for the town and also us retailers who need change for our tills and for customers. For me we are on a slippery slope.

“The business model of a high street bank has almost disintegrated. There are not enough staff and many just point you to machines.

“People don’t tend to move from bank to bank like they would for gas and electricity, but I think they will have to as travelling all the way to Swindon would be ridiculous.”