CONCERNS ARE BEING raised over bank branch closures in Moray as three more are being scheduled to shut their doors in Aberlour, Fochabers and Cullen.
The three branches are just the latest in a series of closures in Moray and throughout the UK, as Banks insist that online-banking services are the choice of an increasing number of their customers.
However, the closures are hitting hardest at more vulnerable sections of the communities affected as well as local businesses.
Moray MP Angus Robertson said that the closures will hit the three communities hard – as they have done in other parts of Moray where local branches have been closed.
He said: “Banking is one of the most basic services that people need to access and we have seen the worry expressed in other Moray communities that have seen banks disappear.
“While the Bank of Scotland is putting in some mitigation by bringing in a mobile service for these communities it does not change the fact that they are closing a High Street institution and moving valued employment elsewhere and leaving prominent buildings empty.”
The MP added that he will be writing to the Bank of Scotland to express “serious concerns” over the decision.
Richard Lochhead MSP expressed his disappointment at the news, acknowledging that banking services and the way we use them are changing, he said: “The way we bank is changing and I note that the Bank have undertaken a full review.
“However, this is clearly a blow for these communities and will, without a doubt, prove most problematic for the older generation who are more likely to visit branches given that they are less likely to have digital banking or banking apps.”
Announcing the closure, the Bank said that they do intend to provide a mobile service for the communities affected, with Mr Lochhead adding: “I look forward to hearing further information in this regard once the timetables have been finalised.”
Last night local councillors also reacted to the news, with Fochabers/Lhanbryde’s Sean Morton expressing his dismay at the decision: “I am shocked by this announcement that the Bank Of Scotland are to close branches in Moray. In particular I know that this will be a real worry to people in the Fochabers area as we are set to lose the only remaining bank in the village.
“I will be writing to the Bank of Scotland to express my concern and I want to offer my support to staff and customers affected. I will take my lead from them about how to proceed in the days ahead. I know many customers want to fight this decision and I am ready to stand by them in their efforts.”
Tory MSP and Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Douglas Ross said he understood the reason banks are moving away from local branches – but remained disappointed that rural customers were again being hit hardest.
He said: “In particular I have concerns over the effect this will have on the elderly and those with limited mobility who rely on locally provided services to go about their daily business.
“I do however welcome the assurance given by Bank of Scotland that they are working closely with the Post Office so that customers have access a wider range of banking services through its network.
“It’s also welcome news that there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of these branch closures.
“I have written to the Chief Executive of Bank of Scotland to seek his assurance that the impact of these closures on customers throughout Moray is kept to a minimum.”
Last year the Royal Bank of Scotland withdrew their branches at Lossiemouth, Keith and Dufftown having previously closed their Burghead and Forres branches.
The three Moray BOS branches are part of a move that will see 23 closures throughout Scotland. A spokesman for parent company the Lloyds Banking Group said: “In most cases, this is as a result of falling customer demand while in others it is because of overlaps with other nearby branches.
“Branches will continue to play an important role in our multi-channel customer offering. Bank of Scotland is committed to maintaining a local presence and we expect to continue to have the largest branch network in Scotland.”