BANKS PULLING OUT of rural communities in Moray should always make proper provision for their customers who are being left high and dry without any local facilities.
Regional MSP Douglas Ross made the call in the final days of his role as a local Councillor for the Fochabers/Lhanbryde ward.
The Royal Bank of Scotland is the latest national bank to announce branch closures in Moray, saying their Forres and Buckie branches will close later this year.
Speaking at his final Full Council meeting before he stands down prior to the local elections, Mr Ross, who has a Parliamentary office on Forres High Street, said that he shares concerns which have been raised about the closure of the RBS branches, and the distance required for people to access their nearest bank.
He said: “Ultimately we want to keep these branches open but the immediate response from the bank has not been positive. If that is the case and these closures go ahead then we need provision for communities who are now faced with a long trip to access bank services. We need to mitigate and offset these closures as much as we possibly can.”
Demanding details on the possible siting of mobile banks in these communities, Mr Ross added: “I would ask for the RBS to provide better provision rather than just one hour a week from a visiting mobile branch which I understand is being proposed in Buckie.
“We need a similar provision in Forres and based on discussions I have had with local constituents, Portgordon is another area which would benefit from this mobile service.
“I also have concerns about the accessibility of these vans, and the short amount of time spent in local communities. RBS have to accept their responsibility to local communities and they can’t just close branches and walk away. It’s important that adequate mobile services are made available if the closures are to happen.”
At the meeting, Mr Ross thanked Council staff and the local community for their support during ten years of service in the Council chamber.
He said: “In the past I have been a staunch critic of senior officers but Moray Council is one of the largest employers in our region and we have some of the best and most dedicated people working at all levels.
“They come to work every day, sometimes having been labelled with our failures, particularly if we have made wrong or silly decisions, but this isn’t a reflection on the great work they do as they work on our behalf. I hope that whoever is elected in the 26 seats in May know that they have very strong backing from a very talented pool of council staff.”