ONCE again Melksham is expected to bear the brunt of potentially bad commercial banking news. Yet another high street bank has decided that we are not a viable enough community to support a bricks and mortar operation. 
While I realise that us real people have very little sway over the decisions of “for even greater profit” motivated businesses, I wonder why there is no legal framework under which bank licenses must incorporate the public good. 
This would not be an unusual regulatory imposition since there are many other free enterprise service businesses in the UK that are bound by such parameters, communications and transport being just two examples.
Before we mourn or rejoice the exit of any business, bank or otherwise we should put them under the microscope of public good. NatWest is currently only open three days a week which in itself is an indicator of its less than enthusiastic service delivery to Melksham. 
By contrast Lloyds are open five days, Barclays four days and Nationwide six days. 
Even though I would strongly advise our community to express their opinion about the NatWest closure by switching I would be wary of choosing the switch target until the remaining banks disclose their own plans for and faith in Melksham.
Actually when I review their 
national summarised consolidated income statement for the year 
ended 31 December 2016 which shows a gross income of £6.18 billion and an operating cost of £6.27 billion, (a loss of £867 million), I am not even sure that I would want to even support such a poorly managed bank remaining on our high street. 
And, if we go by NatWest’s current swing more towards the supposedly greater profits offered by big business and its recent somewhat tarnished history the closure of Melksham branch will not be too much of a loss since hopefully the remaining three majors on our high street seem to want to stay. NatWest has had more than its fair of controversy beginning with its 1987 financial problems and later, in 1997 its corporate and investment arm revealed a £90.5m loss. 
More recently, in March, 2017 The Guardian reported that NatWest was among those banks that had helped launder KGB-related funds out of Russia, and were “facing questions over what they knew about that international scheme and why they did not turn away suspicious money transfers,” as the bank processed $1.1 million in Laundromat cash.
The banks data protection of customer data has also been less than stellar; in December 2013, a computer failure led to a number of customers unable to use NatWest card services to pay for goods.
So Melksham, am I sad that NatWest is leaving Melksham, that staff may lose their jobs, that account holders both business and personal will have to go to Chippenham or Devizes if they want to carry on with bricks and mortar banking? 
Yes but I also see a blessing in disguise because, we as a town can vote on this by switching to a bank that believes in the future of Melksham, one that will add the public good to its operating criteria. 
So NatWest, is it really such bad news? While we work closely with those banks who believe in our town, we will encourage the 37 per cent of your Melksham customers that rely upon coming into your bank to switch so it is probably better that you leave us but once you have become more efficient and understanding of what grass roots banking means to your customers we may welcome you back.
Martin Pain