Harleston: Talks planned over closure of Nationwide Building Society branch

NATIONWIDE has agreed to talks with the organiser of a 1,500-name petition against plans to close its branch in a market town.

The building society, which has been under increasing pressure since it announced plans in October to close its Harleston branch at the end of next month, has now agreed to a conference phone call with petition organiser Fiona Smith.

She said: “I’m delighted they want to talk, but it’s not really me they should be talking to, but the people of Harleston – the 1,500-plus people who have signed a petition urging Nationwide to stay.

“What we really want is for the senior managers to come here and face the people of Harleston in a public meeting so the community can have its say.

“Nationwide really should see this as a positive thing – it shows that people like banking with Nationwide, and want to carry on banking with them, because they have a branch in town.”

The society’s offer of a conference call comes after South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, town council chairman Eric Bird and Clive Attwood, chairman of the Harleston and District Business Forum, spoke by phone for over an hour to Larry Banda, divisional director for the branch network, and Richard Wainer, head of policy and public affairs, at the end of November.

Following that call, Mr Bacon branded Nationwide’s decision to close the branch “shortsighted”, as the town is expected to grow.

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A Nationwide spokesman said: “We would be happy to speak to the petition organiser and have been in correspondence regarding this.

“We feel that we have listened and understood the concerns raised on behalf of their constituents and the local community.”

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