Businesses in a Moray village fear the closure of the last bank in the community may put off future start-ups.
Staff at small firms in Fochabers are now facing up to longer trips away from their shops to go on banking runs following Bank of Scotland’s announcement they are selling up.
The branch will close at the beginning of November with customers being advised to visit Elgin instead.
Fochabers businessman Gordon Christie changed his accounts to the branch when it became the only one in town.
The chemist and caravan park owner said: “Fochabers is really a very busy place since the bypass came in. There are a lot more people on the high street and all the shops are occupied.
“I worry what kind of signal this is going to be sending out. Fochabers is the business centre for about a 10-mile radius.”
The Bank of Scotland has insisted the route of the mobile branch will be reviewed to include a stop in the village.
But Sheila Gray, owner of Fochabers Ice Cream Parlour, believes the lack of a dedicated counter will deter new firms moving there.
She said: “This is going to have a huge impact. I’m mainly a cash business. I’m now going to have to take two people with me to Buckie or Elgin for security to do the banking.
“I think it’s going to change the whole village. It’s difficult enough as it is as a small business without having to go through extra obstacles. It makes it look as though Fochabers just isn’t important anymore.
“I know internet banking is the way everything is going now but it doesn’t help small businesses that rely on cash.”
Moray’s MP Angus Robertson and MSP Richard Lochhead have already expressed concerns about the Fochabers branch closing alongside the ones in Cullen and Aberlour. Fochabers Lhanbryde councillor Sean Morton has also added his voice to those worried about the effect on the village.
A Bank of Scotland spokesman said: “The branch has been identified for closure because of the changing way customers choose to bank with us, which has resulted in customers using it less often.”