NATWEST bank branches at Wareham and Sherborne are among 259 earmarked for closure by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The branch closures, announced after the state-backed lender said more people are choosing to bank online or on mobile phones, will also result in the loss of 680 jobs nationwide.

A Royal Bank of Scotland statement said: “Since 2012 we have seen the way in which people use NatWest Wareham branch change dramatically, with now 85 per cent of customers already banking in other ways locally.

“Transactions in NatWest Wareham branch have reduced by 26 per cent since 2012 with now only 93 customers visiting the branch on a weekly basis.”

Figures show 57 per cent of the Wareham branch’s customers are choosing to bank digitally on a regular basis, the bank also said.

The statement continued: “We are communicating with our customers affected by the closure and proactively contacting vulnerable customers and regular branch users.

“We have extended the time between announcing our decision and the branch closure to six months - this has been done so that we can ensure our customers have enough time to consider the right banking options for them and to give us time to support them one-to-one during the transition.”

The bank has created a new specialist taskforce of NatWest TechXperts to help customers.

Purbeck District Council Cllr David Budd, who represents the Wareham ward, said: “This is extremely disappointing news. I have been into the bank on a number of occasions and have had to queue up to speak to one of the cashiers. I’m surprised there’s not sufficient business going through the bank to keep it open.

“This will disadvantage a lot of people, it will be a big blow to residents and businesses locally.”

In October six other branches of Natwest bank in Dorset and the New Forest closed. Winton’s branch shut its doors to customers on October 12, with Westbourne closing on October 10.

Boscombe, New Milton, Canford Cliffs and Ferndown also closed in October, with customers advised to go to another branch.

The accelerated closures of bank branches across the UK has caused concern among campaigners.

Lloyds Banking Group were set to close 195 branches this year, HSBC 117, and Barclays 100.

At Highcliffe there hasn’t been any local bank for years,.

Christchurch Borough Council Cllr Trish Jamieson explained: “When the Natwest went in Highcliffe, it was the last bank to go here. We fought against it, I wrote to the chairman of the bank and got the most peculiar letter back saying it would only take me six minutes to drive to Christchurch and seven minutes to drive to New Milton, so what was my problem? The banks are just not interested in people - all they are interested in is their shareholders.”