MSP to meet with bank bosses to discuss closures

The Clydesdale Bank Mintlaw branch
The Clydesdale Bank Mintlaw branch

Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson is to meet with Clydesdale Bank senior management to discuss their planned closures.

The meeting comes after the bank announced it is to close 40 branches nationwide including those in Fraserburgh and Mintlaw.

Mr Stevenson said: "I will be meeting with Clydesdale Bank senior management along with my MP colleagues to discuss their planned closures.

“Clearly, the way people do their banking is changing, with more and more of it done online and by phone, reducing the amount of footfall in branches.

“However, there is still a significant need for businesses, organisations and individuals to be able to deposit their shop takings, collect change, bank cheques, and also to be able to speak to staff face-to-face.

“If the Clydesdale Bank is effectively giving up on certain larger communities, then I would encourage those communities to support those banks which still have a presence in Buckie, Banff and Fraserburgh to help secure their future.”

Commenting on the announcement that Clydesdale Bank is closing their branch in Fraserburgh, Catherine Ward, Development Manager of the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) in North East Scotland said: “This closure comes at a time when small firms are already struggling to access banking services. Increased reliance on limited Post Office facilities and poor broadband connectivity have seriously impacted the ability of small businesses to bank effectively. This hurts their productivity and, ultimately, their bottom line.

“Our research shows that small businesses feel there is no substitute for in-person advice when tackling complex financial matters. Physical branches are also a critical resource for our many members who deal heavily in cash, and therefore need regular access to over-the-counter banking facilities. Banks have a duty to ensure that what they leave behind works for all their customers. That means improved pick-ups for cash-based businesses, a modern, well-maintained ATM network and a practical solutions for business customers currently dependent on a local branch.

“The UK’s bank branch network has halved in size to just over 8,000 in the past 25 years. In Scotland, there are now fewer than 1000 active branches in Scotland. This has restricted small business output – the lifeblood of our economy. What’s more, we know that awareness of the Access to Banking Protocol, designed to protect vulnerable customers in the event of a branch closure, is no way near as high as it should be.

“Many Aberdeenshire towns have already lost local services because of big business or public sector re-organisations. And while on paper, it might make short term commercial sense to rationalise operations, the long term impact of these decisions on local communities could destroy the efforts to rejuvenate our high streets and save our town centres”.