Bank of Scotland (Branch Closures)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 28th November 2018.

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Photo of Jamie Halcro Johnston Jamie Halcro Johnston Conservative

I thank Sandra White for bringing the debate to the chamber.

Although the bank branch network has been in decline for some time, it has become clear in recent years that the closing of branches has gained pace. That has left us in a position in which the very future of branch-based banking services is under threat. Those services are still utilised by a significant cross-section of our constituents, but we are potentially looking at a future, envisaged by our major banks, in which a truly nationwide branch network, covering small towns and villages like those that many of us represent, is no longer considered to be in their economic interest. What a future scaled-down network will look like and how banking services will continue to be offered to customers is still unclear.

Two of the branches affected—they are mentioned in the motion—are located in my region of the Highlands and Islands, in Keith and Lossiemouth. Both are relatively substantial settlements in Moray and maintain a range of businesses that might not be found in similarly sized towns in the central belt, but both are losing their Bank of Scotland branches, and the Bank of Scotland is removing the ATMs, too. The Bank of Scotland branch in Lossiemouth is the last remaining bank in that town, and the decision to close it comes at a time when the RAF is making a major investment in Lossiemouth—an investment that will bring hundreds of new residents, families and businesses to the town; but there will be no bank.