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I thank all members who have supported my motion and enabled a debate on the very important subject of planned Bank of Scotland branch closures.
I note that Neil Findlay lodged a question regarding bank closures last year and that there was a members’ business debate on the closures in December 2017, which was led by Kate Forbes, who is now the Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy. We should take note of the Scottish Government’s response to Neil Findlay’s question. It stated:
“banks should commit to work with the local communities they serve to establish a range of delivery channels that best meets the needs of their customers, including access to local, physical banking services”.—[
, 2 May 2018; S5W-16023.]
Here we are, nearly a year on from the previous debate, facing more bank branch closures. Banks continue to renege on their commitment to meet the needs of local communities, including the business sector.
I will read out an email from one of my constituents, which sets out exactly how the closure of the Bank of Scotland branch at St George’s Cross, in my constituency, affects that community and the areas beyond. I will not say the person’s name, but I will read their email. My constituent says:
“I am emailing you in regards to the Bank of Scotland’s decision to close it’s branch at St George’s Cross. I find it very worrying that this closure will have a serious impact on the elderly and infirm and also local businesses. We are now in a position of not having a local Bank of Scotland from areas Bearsden, Torrance, Milton, Possilpark, Kelvindale, Kelvinbridge, Anniesland, Maryhill and Cowcaddens.”
That is quite a wide area. My constituent continues:
“The nearest bank branch will now be in the city centre. I am just wondering if you and your parliamentary colleagues would be willing to use your parliamentary influence to approach the Bank of Scotland in an effort to reverse their disgraceful decision to deprive the good people of Maryhill and beyond of a much needed and loved branch.”
I have replied to my constituent, making him aware that this debate is taking place. Perhaps the minister will follow up my constituent’s request and contact the Bank of Scotland on the issues that he has raised.
I received information from the Bank of Scotland, indicating the nearest branch following the closure of the St George’s Cross branch. Customers will now need to do their banking in person at the Byres Road branch, the Sauchiehall Street branch or the Argyle Street branch. Those branches are quite a distance away for an elderly or infirm person. In addition, the bank advocates the use of a Spar shop in Maryhill, a Day Today store in St George’s Road and a Nisa store on the Great Western Road.
That is simply not good enough. The bank is not serving local communities—particularly the frail and elderly, as I have said—or small and medium-sized businesses in my constituency, many of which rely on local banking facilities to bank their takings or change moneys.