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4 January 2012

Newhaven's MP, Norman Baker, has written to the Chief Executive of the RBS Group, Stephen Hester, to urge for the decision to close the NatWest branch on Newhaven High Street to be reversed, and has also written to the Business Minister, Mark Prisk MP, to ask that he looks at this case.

The NatWest branch is scheduled to close in March, with the bank citing low demand as its reason, but in letters to both the Chief Executive and the Business Minister, the local MP has called the bank's reasoning into question, pointing out that regeneration plans that have gained momentum since the high level stakeholder meeting that took place last month will improve demand.

In addition, the closure of a bank that is part of the RBS Group will have a disproportionate effect on the elderly and small businesses who will now have to make a round trip of up to six miles to either Peacehaven or Seaford if they wish to speak to an advisor face-to-face.

Norman said: "With Barclays being closed, NatWest's decision to close its branch is a further bitter blow, and I really do question its decision. The people of Newhaven have not taken this lightly and there is no doubt that it will damage whatever reputation NatWest and its parent group RBS has. It is ridiculous to expect the elderly and local businesses to take a six mile round trip to speak to an advisor face-to-face.

"I also believe that this is a poor commercial decision. Plans for regenerating Newhaven are gaining significant momentum following the high level stakeholder meeting that took place last month and if NatWest pulls out now it will see no benefit from the plans. I have made these points very clear in my letter to RBS's Chief Executive, which I have also drawn to the attention of the Business Minister, and I expect the Chief Executive to reconsider this decision."