The Bank of Scotland has moved quickly to reassure customers in a Moray community that the closure of their local branch will be fully covered by a mobile banking service.
Burghead’s branch of the bank has been the subject of speculation for some time over its future as the building in which it operates has come under disrepair.
Now the bank say that they will close the sub-branch on Tuesday, May 12 with the mobile service calling for the first time on Tuesday, May 19 when it will halt at the North Quay in the town.
Consultations with the community have been taking place with Burghead-based Heldon & Laich councillor Chris Tuke who met with the bank’s Aberdeen and North East local director, Donald Anderson.
Councillor Tuke said: “Although I understand that the number of customers is small the branch is predominantly used by older people, for ease of access, and by local businesses for convenience. The fact that a mobile bank is being provided will ensure that the service is maintained.”
However, Councillor Tuke said that he did not feel that the Harbour location at which the new mobile bank service would stop was entirely suitable, saying: “I did not think that the Harbour location was ideal as there is a steep brae leading back up to the main town with which some people, on foot, may have difficulty.
“I suggested alternative stopping places at either the old station yard, opposite the Maltings’ entrance or the paved area at the bottom of Fraser Road. Mr Anderson said that these sites could be investigated – but if any residents would like to suggest other suitable places, I shall ensure that they are passed on.”
On the closure of the bank Cllr Tuke said it was always sad to see the permanent closure of a sub-branch, but added: “The important fact is that the service is being maintained.
“On a more positive note, the portion of the building not owned by the Bank has recently been sold after years of being uninhabited and neglected. The new owners have already made a start on improving the pigeon problem and it is hoped that the building, (one of the finest, architecturally in the town), can be brought back to its former glory.
“It is a matter for the Bank on future action regarding the part of the building in its ownership but I would hope that it would come onto the open market fairly quickly.
“I know of small local business owners that a keen to acquire shop premises or it could be developed for residential accommodation – you never know, the new owner of the main part of the building might even be interested in reuniting it.”
A spokeswoman for the Bank of Scotland said: “The difficult decision to close the branch has been taken due to the poor condition of the building of which Bank of Scotland occupies a part.
“The branch will close at 1130 on Tuesday 12 May 2015 and the mobile branch will then take over service from 0930 on Tuesday 19 May. Customers don’t need to take any action – account numbers and sort codes will stay the same, and any standing orders, Direct Debits, cards and PINs will all carry on as before.”
Robin Bulloch, Managing Director of the Bank of Scotland, added: “It’s really important to Bank of Scotland that we remain committed to Burghead.
“While we understand some customers will be disappointed that the branch is closing, we have worked hard to look at different options. We believe the mobile branch offers the most practical approach and look forward to serving customers from North Quay.”