Hundreds of angry villagers have signed a petition urging a high street bank to reconsider plans to close its last-standing branch in the area.

More than 600 people who use the NatWest, in Churchill Parade, Rustington, were recently told that their branch will close this summer, leaving the village and the entire Arun district without a NatWest.

Fiona Bates, who set up the petition, told The Argus: “We won’t go down without a fight.

“In its explanation for the closure, NatWest said the branch only has five customers but that really does not reflect my experience.”

Ms Bates uses online banking but needs the physical bank for some services.

“I have had to go into the branch for all manner of things,” Ms Bates said.

“Bereavement services, moving larger sums of money. Many people need the help of the staff too.”

Businesses in the village are also collecting signatures.

Staff at Flowers of Rustington in Ash Lane and Oxfam in Broadmark Parade have raised concerns about the plans.

Ms Bates said: “We have been told to go to the post office to do cheques and cash. Small businesses have told me that this would be really difficult for them.

“The post office has lots of other services and customers.”

The penultimate NatWest branch in the Aun district, which was in Bognor, closed in September.

If the Rustington closure goes ahead as planned, there will only be one bank, a Santander, left in the village.

A spokeswoman for Arun District Council said: “We understand that this is a commercial decision made by a corporate body and does not take account of local conditions or community needs. The council was not consulted on this matter and has no way of influencing this decision or preventing the closure from going ahead.”

NatWest made a factsheet for customers explaining the reason for the closure.

It tells them their next nearest branch is in Worthing almost seven miles away.

Ms Bates said: “For those who don’t drive, which is many people, the journey to Worthing will be 50 minutes, or more, on the bus.”

NatWest was contacted for comment.