Bank customers could soon be conducting business in an Aberdeen church, yards away from their former branch.
TSB’s Mannofield premises will close in June, among 17 to be lost across the north-east and Highlands throughout 2021.
But it has emerged talks are under way to secure space in the western Aberdeen suburb to provide community banking services face-to-face.
The bank has confirmed three options are currently being considered, including the nearby Mannofield Church and a vacant shop unit.
In September, TSB announced the closures – due to begin with Aboyne and Grantown on January 20 – and committed to have 50 mobile advisors to help with basic banking queries for those not ready to move online, who might otherwise be faced with a round trip of up to 60 miles to get to a branch.
Across Scotland, 73 branches will close, with the loss of around 300 jobs.
Plans to make use of Mannofield kirk came to light in a recent meeting between bank officials, North East Conservative MSP Liam Kerr, Reverend Keith Blackwood and the community council.
Mr Kerr hit out at the “absolutely appalling” uncertainty faced by staff and customers in recent months.
But he welcomed the commitment to look at local solutions in Mannofield, claiming face-to-face contact would be “hugely beneficial” for elderly people feeling secluded, lonely and isolated in the pandemic.
He told The P&J: “But if the bank is going to do this, it must make sure customers have the same access to services as they did before.
“TSB also has a duty to their staff and the organisation must make sure their employees are offered redeployment to branches in the north-east and not hundreds of miles away.
“The organisation cannot leave people in the dark over where their future job or banking location lies and I will continue to ask for regular updates on the situation as these moves near closer.”
Similar plans are being considered to help customers in Aboyne, Banchory, Alford and Huntly.
Rev Blackwood said: “Although many in society today feel comfortable with new technology, there is a group who still find that transition something that brings them anxiety.
“What I wanted TSB to take note of in this transition is they can’t leave behind those already feeling vulnerable – which they totally accepted.
“I was reassured and heartened by the commitment to this community.
“In recent weeks we have been delighted to open the church sanctuary for flu vaccinations, with floods of people from this end of town are coming for their jabs.
“I don’t want anyone thinking this is more a hostel or bank than a place of worship but this is part of opening up to the community we envisaged when we refurbished the church.”