A MELKSHAM councillor has urged local residents to close their accounts with NatWest and bank their money elsewhere.

Cllr Martin Pain says they should open accounts with banks that show greater commitment to the town.

NatWest last week announced it is to shut the Melksham branch by May 21 as part of a nationwide closure of 197 local branches.

The bank blamed digital technology for the closure, saying 89 per cent of branch customers were banking in other ways locally.

NatWest said: "The way people bank with us has changed radically over the last few years: since 2014, the number of customers using our branches across the UK has fallen by 40 per cent.

"During the same period mobile transactions have increased by 73 per cent; and in the first half of 2017, there were 1.1 billion mobile and online transactions carried out by our customers: an increase of 41 per cent since 2014.

"Transactions in the Melksham branch have reduced by 51 per cent since 2012 with now only 51 customers visiting the branch on a weekly basis. Up to 63 per cent of customers are now choosing to bank digitally with us on a regular basis instead."

Cllr Adrienne Westbrook, the mayor of Melksham, said: “I am disappointed that yet another bank has chosen to close. Whilst recognising that banking has changed over the past 10 years it is vital that rural communities have access to good banking arrangements.

“I would like to see our MP starting a campaign to get the banks to work together to make sure that a banking hub is available in market towns. To say that the Post Office can be used is not acceptable as I’m not sure they have the capacity to take this on.

“It is also concerning that another large building right in the heart of the town will be empty. I would hope that Wiltshire Council would work with the owners to have a speedy outcome for this. I will bring a motion to the next appropriate meeting so that it can be discussed fully.”

Cllr Pain added: "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."

Brian Warwick, chair of Melksham & District Seniors Forum, said the closure would hit vulnerable and elderly people who preferred to visit their local branch.

"Not everyone is able to use digital technology and some sheltered housing schemes don't have wi-fi facilities."