SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has condemned the Bank of Scotland’s decision to close down a further two of its branches in the Western Isles.
Yesterday, Halifax Bank of Scotland announced that both the Lochmaddy and Tarbert branches will cease to operate from February. This leaves only two Bank of Scotland branches for the entirety of the Outer Hebrides, located in Stornoway and Benbecula.
Commenting following the announcement yesterday afternoon, Allan said:
“I am very concerned by the proposed closures of the Bank of Scotland’s branches in Tarbert and Lochmaddy. While many customers are now able to make use of digital and phone banking, there are many services which can only be carried out in-branch, and there can be technical issues with digital banking as well as lengthy and frustrating waits to speak with customer support teams over the phone.
“The Bank of Scotland’s alternative suggestions for users of the Tarbert branch include a two hour round-trip to the Stornoway branch by car or bus, or (somewhat incredibly) to undertake a three hour journey by ferry and road to Portree in Skye and then back again. Portree is also suggested as the second nearest branch for Lochmaddy Bank of Scotland’s customers to access. Would a six hour, or even a two hour, round-trip to access a bank be seen as acceptable for customers in the Central Belt?
“After a taxpayer-funded bailout of £30 billion following 2008’s financial crash, surely the Bank of Scotland can do better than this for its customers, particularly a number of elderly or vulnerable users, for whom making the switch to online or over the phone banking could be extremely difficult. Today’s news is disappointing, to say the very least, and I am seeking assurances from the bank about how they will ensure that the local post offices, for example, are able to cover as far as possible the impact which will be felt by this service removal.”