An MSP has urged two banks to “stick to their promise” and set up a financial hub to help the residents of an Aberdeenshire town where branches were axed earlier this year.
Bank of Scotland announced in January it would be closing its Huntly branch, and when TSB said in September it would be taking similar action, the community was left without any banking facilities.
Huntly Community Council and the Huntly and District Development Trust have been active in trying to find a solution to the issue and allow people to continue to access bank advisors face to face.
From March 10 next year, the Bank of Scotland will operate a mobile bank service from the town’s East Park Street car park.
However, Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett has called on the two banks to take up the community council’s offer of a space in the town centre which they can rent out once a week to serve as a financial hub.
Mr Burnett, who met TSB bosses last month to outline concerns over the closures, said: “I acknowledge the fact the Bank of Scotland has listened to the concerns of residents and will operate a mobile banking service from March at the East Park Street car park rather than at Market Muir.
“However it’s time both the Bank of Scotland and TSB keep to their promise and set up a joint financial hub in the town centre allowing face-to-face advice and support.
“It’s fantastic Huntly Community Council is offering to help the banks find an area to rent out once-a-week but the banks themselves must stick to their end of the bargain.
“It would be unthinkable for residents in Huntly and the surrounding area to be completely isolated from services and I’m determined to make sure this doesn’t happen.
“Face-to-face contact with local banking agents can be hugely beneficial for groups such as the elderly in helping combat loneliness and isolation.
“Customers cannot be left outside in the cold next year and assurances must be given on a location for the financial hub sooner rather than later.”
In a Facebook post, Huntly Community Council thanked both Mr Burnett and Gordon MP Richard Thomson for their support during negotiations.
A TSB spokesman said: “As we continue to respond to the transition towards digital banking, TSB will introduce up to 50 mobile advisors in some rural communities across Scotland to deliver face-to-face support for existing customers on basic banking queries.
“To help deliver this, we are currently working with local partners to identify a suitable location for an adviser in Huntly, ahead of that service launching in February.
“We hope to be able to confirm details of the location shortly.”