Press and Journal

Bank bosses urged to rethink closures

The Unite union yesterday urged the Bank of Scotland to halt its branch closure programme and consider the effect on disabled customers and fragile rural communities.

The bank confirmed the latest closures on Wednesday – in Beauly, Bonar Bridge, Dornoch, Fortrose, Helmsdale, Kingussie and Lairg – leaving customers having to travel up to 18 miles to an alternative branch from October.

They are among 54 branches across the UK to go, with the loss of 200 jobs.

It enraged Unite which said the loss of “long established features of rural life” could not be underestimated.

National officer Rob MacGregor said: “The industry must halt these endless branch closure programmes and open its eyes to what these closures are doing to rural communities, disabled customers and the small business customers who depend on access to a local branch.”

He said Highland branches were an “economic centre for the local community.”

Customers across Highland were shocked by the latest closures, which are a result of the growing trend towards online banking.

Business leaders have complained that the region is being “hit disproportionately” and urged politicians to intervene.

The bank has insisted more mobile units will be available in “some” rural areas.