The Felixstowe, Woodbridge and Stowmarket branches of NatWest are to close, with the bank blaming a sharp reduction in the number of transactions.

East Anglian Daily Times: NatWest is closing branches in Felixstowe, Woodbridge and StowmarketNatWest is closing branches in Felixstowe, Woodbridge and Stowmarket

The Stowmarket branch is to close on September 21, the Felixstowe branch on September 27 and the Woodbridge branch on September 28.

NatWest said it was announcing the closures six months in advance to allow customers time to consider alternative banking arrangements, with vulnerable customers and regular branch users to be contacted “proactively” to discuss their options.

“The way people choose to bank with us has changed radically over the last few years,” said a spokesman. “Between 2010 and 2015, mobile and online transactions have increased by over 400% and mobile transactions alone have increased by 1,350%.

“Since 2011 we have seen the number of transactions fall by 37% in the Felixstowe branch, 36% in the Stowmarket branch and 53% in the Woodbridge branch. These customers are actively choosing to bank in different ways, with an average of 62% of customers at these branches choosing to use our digital banking options.”

A total of six staff will be affected by the closures, three in Woodbridge, two in Felixstowe and one in Stowmarket.

“We are doing everything we can to support these employees, including seeking redeployment opportunities wherever possible and ensuring that compulsory redundancies are kept to a minimum”, NatWest said.

The bank, part of the largely state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland Group, said it was following the Access to Banking protocol and had taken into account the alternatives available to affected customers.

In addition to online and telephone banking facilities, all three banks due to close were within a mile of a Post Office, where customers would be able to pay in or withdraw cash and check their balances, and within a mile of a number of cash machines.

The spokesman added: “We know that not all of our customers are comfortable and familiar with using online or mobile banking, so we have created a new specialist taskforce of NatWest TechXperts who will be dedicated to supporting our customers with training and support with digital skills.”

From September, the nearest remaining NatWest branch for customers of the Felixstowe and Woodbridges branches will be at Ransomes Europark, Ipswich, 8.9 miles and 8.8 miles away respectively, while the nearest branch for Stowmarket customers will be the Ipswich town centre branch, in Tavern Street, 13.2 miles away.

Nationally, the RBS group is to close a total of 128 NatWest and 30 RBS branches, affecting around 470 jobs.