Nationwide says no to community’s final pleas

Meeting at Forest Heath Council offices re. the closure of Nationwide in Mildenhall.
Meeting at Forest Heath Council offices re. the closure of Nationwide in Mildenhall.
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NATIONWIDE has refused the pleas of a community and ruled out reversing the decision to close its Mildenhall branch.

The announcement was made during a conference call between a representative from the building society, campaigner Geoff Ashton and Forest Heath District Council’s portfolio holder for economic development and tourism, David Bowman, on Tuesday.

Speaking after the call with Larry Banda, Nationwide’s divisional director, Cllr Bowman said: “Unfortunately it seems it was a waste of time, the decision was made before we went in and they were not going to change the decision.

“We put across our arguments but they were not prepared to listen to any of those arguments - they were not going to change their minds.”

Since the building society announced their intention to close the branch in the town’s market place at 2pm on August 31 two petitions have been submitted to the building society.

Local account holders, Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, Mildenhall Parish Council and Forest Heath district councillors David Bowman and Nigel Roman have also sent letters to Nationwide explaining their concerns about the effect of the closure on the town and imploring them to reconsider their decision.

A spokesman from the building society said: “We have gone through a thorough process to analyse the petition and have responded personally to the petition organiser and local councillor.

“We appreciate the time and effort that has gone into organising it and gaining signatures. Unfortunately, many of the signatories were not our customers, and were therefore not using the branch and contributing towards its future.”

The call with Nationwide’s representative followed a public meeting attended by approximately 30 people who aired concerns regarding the loss of local services and the difficulties that people will face in travelling to Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket or Ely to access a branch.

Speaking to members of the public assembled outside the building society following the final decision, Cllr Bowman emphasised the importance of finding another building society to fill the gap left in the town’s market place.

He said: “We will be talking to all the various building societies to try and find someone who is interested in coming in and taking over and making it as attractive as possible to them.”