A charity that supports pensioners has urged a national banking chain to drop proposals to shut branches in Moray.
The Bank of Scotland announced this week that its sites in Keith and Lossiemouth will close in May and June next year.
The move has already been met with criticism locally by campaigners who have vowed to gather support to press bosses to reverse the decision.
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Now the charity Age Scotland has joined the calls, stressing that a “substantial proportion” of older residents are only comfortable doing their baking face-to-face.
Chief executive Brian Sloan said shutting branches was an “easy route” to save money and has the Bank of Scotland to instead draw up “innovative” solutions – including shared facilities for rural areas.
He said: “Physical branches are important to older people.
“As older people are more likely to be targeted by scams, they’re less likely to go online or use the phone for banking and they shouldn’t be disadvantaged for making this choice.
“One caller to our helpline told us that after forgetting her account password, a telephone advisor told her she would have to ‘pop-in’ to her nearest branch.
“The only problem was that she lived in rural Perthshire and the closest one involved a journey of nearly two hours on two different buses.”
Bank of Scotland has stressed that both Keith and Lossiemouth branches have post office facilities nearby to allow customers to access cash facilities.
Meanwhile, the firm has announced that a mobile service will be launched in the two towns ahead of the closures.
The bank has blamed dwindling footfall for the move and has released figures showing that only 24 customers used the Lossiemouth counters weekly while 15 visit Keith.
Yesterday, Moray MSP Richard Lochhead wrote to the company to request discussions about the issue.
Moray MP Douglas Ross has also organised meetings in the towns next week in order to speak to locals about the difficulties they could face.
He said: “I’ve invited the bank, community councillors, business representatives and post office officials to allow a full discussion on all options.”
The meetings will take place at Lossiemouth Community Centre on Thursday and Longmore Hall in Keith on Friday. Both start at 7pm.