The UK Government’s defence minister has joined the fight to save a closure-threatened Moray bank.
The Bank of Scotland branch in Lossiemouth is due to shut its doors for the final time next year due to falling footfall.
Local residents voiced their outrage at the decision at two public meetings held in the town last week.
Now the defence minister, Gavin Williamson, has backed their calls due to the on-going expansion of RAF Lossiemouth.
Up to 2,000 servicemen and women are expected to move to Moray over the next two years as part of a £500 million upgrade of the base to make it fit for the fleet of new P-8 Poseidon aircraft.
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Mr Williamson said: “There is a potential impact for the base and the military personnel serving here should this proposed closure of the Bank of Scotland go ahead.
“The UK Government is making a huge investment in RAF Lossiemouth which will see hundreds of additional military personnel and their families coming to the area – which will more than merit the bank staying open.”
The minister visited the Moray base this week to inspect the on-going construction work for the new squadron headquarters and intends to write to the Bank of Scotland about its decision.
At present, branches in Lossiemouth and Keith will close in May and June next year after the firm reported declining footfall in the towns.
Bosses have said a new mobile service will be made available to the communities ahead of the closures.
In the wake of Mr Williamson’s visit, Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “The defence secretary fully understands the implications of the Lossiemouth bank closing at a time when the UK military footprint in the town is expanding.
“There are a number of issues at play here.
“Not only is this the last bank branch in Lossiemouth but the local Post Office is also up for sale.
“If both go the community would be left without any banking service which is clearly unacceptable.”