CAMPAIGNERS are taking their fight to save their bank to the heart of Government.

Residents and businesses in Fair Oak have been battling to save their NatWest branch, which they say is vital as it is the last bank in the village.

But yesterday, after presenting senior NatWest officials with a petition of 1,100 signatures, they were told the decision had been made and that the bank will shut on July 9.

Now Save Fair Oak NatWest supporters are launching a last ditch bid to save the branch by pleading with one of the most powerful men in Government, Business Secretary Vince Cable.

They will also petition bosses from NatWest’s parent company The Royal Bank of Scotland.

Campaigner Jason Judd, who runs the Oven Door Bakery in Botley Road, said: “I don’t know if it will have much of an effect but it is worth a try and we have corresponded before.

“But we have to do all we can to keep the bank here.

“We requested a review of the decision but were told it is too late and they didn’t give us any reason for that.

“That bank is very important to the village and when we asked what we are supposed to do they just referred us to Internet banking, which is not appropriate for all, or to go to Eastleigh, which some people cannot do.”

Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton said for his part he would be arranging a meeting with Vince Cable.

He said: “I will talk to him to see if anything can be done. We are disappointed at the attitude of the bank.

“They should have reviewed the decision to see if they could improve business at the branch to make it financially viable.”

Last night NatWest said the decision followed a decline in usage, which it said dropped by nearly a quarter in the past few years because of alternative ways of banking.

A spokesman said: “This includes by telephone, in Post Offices, by app and online.

“The branch is open 15 hours a week and only 31 customers regularly use the branch each week. We are writing to our customers to make them aware of the closure and the different ways they can still bank with us.”