I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on a subject of particular importance to my constituents in Inverclyde. As Members are aware, there has been a steady decline in the number of bank branches over the past 20 years. Between 1997 and 2014, almost 4,000 bank branches closed across the UK. Worryingly, this rate of decline shows no sign of decreasing, with figures obtained by the BBC indicating that a further 600 branches closed between April 2015 and April 2016. Proportionately, Scotland, Wales and the south-west of England are the hardest hit by closures.
Unfortunately, Inverclyde has not been immune from the effects of this decline and in recent years there have been a number of prominent branch closures in my constituency. My constituents have clearly expressed their opinion about these closures. They feel frustrated and dissatisfied. They feel that their views about an important community service have not been respected.