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Another four north and north-east TSB branches to shut next year

This TSB branch in Thurso, Sutherland, is among those facing the axe.

TSB branches in Ellon, Fort William, Forres and Thurso are among 70 that will shut around the UK during 2022, the bank has revealed.

Some 150 jobs are being axed but TSB said all impacted staff would be offered alternative roles.

TSB blamed a further decline in the number of people visiting branches as more customers turn to online banking.

We have to respond to the changes in the way people bank, and provide the right mix of services for all our customers now and into the future.”

Robin Bulloch, chief customer officer, TSB.

Of the four north and north-east sites earmarked for closure, the branch on Bridge Street, Ellon, will be the first to shut on April 19.

The branch at 6 Tweedale High Street, Fort William, will shut the day after, with the one on Trail Street, Thurso, closing on April 21.

The TSB on High Street, Forres, will shut on April 27.

Pop-ups coming to Fort William and Thurso

Customers in Fort William currently face a near-two-hour journey by car to get to their next nearest permanent branch, 66 miles away, in Inverness.

Those in Thurso must to undergo a 220-mile round trip to Inverness or a near-100-mile journey there and back, via ferry, to Kirkwall, Orkney.

But TSB said it would introduce pop-up banks, using “mobile” staff in both towns, as well as in Stranraer and seven locations south of the border.

And it insisted there would be no closures where it is currently the “last branch in town”.

TSB chief customer officer Robin Bulloch said: “Closing branches is an incredibly difficult decision to take.

“But we have to respond to the changes in the way people bank, and provide the right mix of services for all our customers now and into the future.

“These changes allow us to maintain an extensive branch presence across the country.

“They are accompanied by a significant investment programme to upgrade branches to better suit customer needs.

“And, where it takes longer to get to the nearest branch, we will introduce more ‘pop-up’ services in communities.”

A customer using the TSB online banking app on an iPhone.

At pop-ups, TSB advisors provide face-to-face support, including making payments, providing product information and helping customers get started with digital banking.

As with previous closures, additional support will be provided to vulnerable customers, including one-to-one advice on their banking needs, such as digital skills training and alternative ways to bank.

They will also be contacted personally in advance of a branch closure to make them aware of the changes.

In recent years, the bank has seen a significant decrease in branch use, with the average number of transactions per location falling since January 2019.

TSB said there was no prospect of branch transactions returning to pre-Covid levels.

Two years ago, it set out its intention to reduce its branch network and invest in digital services as part of its strategy to meet the future needs of customers.

But the Covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated the shift away from branch services, with customers shopping and doing more online.

Vast majority of transactions made online

More than 90% of customer transactions are now carried out digitally and video banking accounts for in excess of 90% of mortgage appointments.

TSB said the branches earmarked for closure next year carried out around one-third (32%) fewer transactions than the TSB national average.

There is also a Post Office or free-to-use ATM within a mile of each location, it added.

Where it takes longer to get to the nearest branch, we will introduce more ‘pop-up’ services in communities.”

The bank also said more than 90% of its customers will still be able to travel to one of its branches in 20 minutes or less.

Following the closures, TSB will have 220 branches, remaining the 7th largest branch network in the UK.

A raft of closures during 2021 has seen TSB shut branches in Aberdeen, Aboyne, Alford, Banchory, Dingwall, Grantown, Huntly, Insch, Nairn, Turriff and Wick.

Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said: “I recognise that how individuals and businesses access banking is changing, but seeing branches lost in major towns like Fort William is still extremely disappointing.”

Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP

Moray Conservative MP Douglas Ross said large parts of Scotland were now “akin to banking deserts”.

Gordon SNP MP Richard Thomson said: “This is sadly an all-too-common pattern .

“One has to question a business model which says that the answer to declining footfall is simply to close down and retreat online where, instead of being one of three or four local banks to choose from, the TSB will become one of hundreds of options.”

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