A new cash machine has been installed in Cullen to end five years of money troubles for the town.
The Moray community has been left without access to a free ATM since the final bank branch shut in 2016.
Residents and tourists have been forced to endure six-mile drives to either Buckie or Portsoy ever since in order to get money – prompting concerns about visitor spend in the town.
Cullen businesses dependent on cash sales
The plight prompted Cullen Community Council to launch a campaign for a new cash machine amid fears businesses in the town, including cafes and gift shops, were dependent on small purchases.
Now a hole in the wall has been installed outside the local Co-op as part of a scheme run by operator Link to help communities without access to cash.
Stewart Black, chairman of Cullen Community Council, said: “We’ve been trying for a long time to get something sorted, we’ve actually being trying to find out when the process started.
“Years ago we did a community survey and a cash machine was one of the things that topped the list – folk wanted access to an ATM.
“It’s good it’s going to be ready for the summer with the staycations. I was in on Friday and Cullen was absolutely heaving with people already, especially by the harbour.”
Cullen was identified as one of the first locations in the UK to benefit from a new cash machine as part of Link’s scheme when it was launched in 2018.
However, difficulties in securing a location for the ATM are understood to have delayed the process.
A recent refurbishment of the town’s Co-op branch ended the search and has now restored round-the-clock access to money.
Lack of ATM ‘problematic’ for Cullen visitors
Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “Access to cash has become a huge problem for rural communities, towns and villages in Moray.
“Cullen lost its last bank branch in 2016 and residents have been campaigning for years for a cash machine.
“This free-to-use ATM at the Co-op on Grant Street will provide a very valuable service.
“I have worked on this for several years with my Moray Council colleagues and the local Community Council and they deserve credit for their efforts.”
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic Link has reported cash machine use has plummeted with the number of transactions dropping by 43%.
However, research carried out by the firm has suggested more than five million adults across the UK continue to rely on physical money over card payments.
Ian Vernon, Link’s head of commercial initiatives, said: “Cullen is a town which is hugely popular with tourists who want to spend money in the area.
“That was problematic when there wasn’t a free machine so we are glad that we have been able to help the community with the support of Douglas Ross MP.
“Free access to cash remains vital for communities across the UK and we’re ready to support more communities access cash easily”.