SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, met earlier today with Link, the UK’s largest cash machine network, following news that the Bank of Scotland intends to close its branches in Tarbert and Lochmaddy. Link has a responsibility to ensure that communities have access to cash via ATMs and cashback at retailers’ tills.
Allan met with Bank of Scotland representatives last month to highlight local concern over access to cash, as well as the potential impact on businesses and vulnerable customers. Today, the islands’ MSP made clear that he would request that Link review cash access in the affected localities, given that the branch closures also represent the removal of the associated cash machines.
Commenting, Allan said:
“Today’s meeting with Link was a useful opportunity to emphasise the distances which many island residents already have to travel to access banking services and cash machines. This is something which will only be made worse by the Bank of Scotland’s decision to close these local services.
“Link today agreed to look to replacing the cash machine currently provided by the bank in Lochmaddy, to ensure continued cash access there, as well as putting systems in place to ensure the existing non-bank cash machine in Tarbert is regularly maintained and filled. Particularly during the summer months, this has often been an issue in the past.
“While none of this makes up for the impact which the closure of these Bank of Scotland branches early next year will cause, particularly for loyal in-branch customers, I hope the commitments by Link to maintain cash machines in these locations will be carried through.
“Although many people have moved to doing much more of their banking online or over the phone, there are still individuals and businesses who require in-person assistance, and they should not have to undertake a round trip of over 100 miles, in some cases, to do this. It remains to be seen how well the support being put in place for in-branch customers’ transition to online banking, for example, will be effective. In the meantime, it is still essential for communities to have access to cash.”