SNP’s Ian Blackford calls for review over TSB plan to axe half its Scots branches
CALLS have been made for an urgent review over TSB’s plans to close more than half of its Scottish branches and cut around 300 jobs – in some cases closing the last bank in town.
Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader has told the TSB chief executive Debbie Crosbie in a letter that he fears the closure of 73 local branches could be the last straw for many high streets which have been struggling due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Blackford said that while banking services have changed in recent years, many people and local businesses still rely on their local branch – and for many people the face-to-face contact of visiting a local bank is invaluable.
Mr Blackford MP said: “TSB must re-think their decision to close 73 branches across Scotland – in some cases closing the last bank in town. The decision will devastate many who rely on their local branch during an already very difficult time.
“Older and vulnerable groups will be hit particularly hard by this decision. Many people are unable to use online services, or would struggle to travel to the next town to do their banking.
“Local banks also provide a footfall on high streets which other businesses rely on – now more than ever.
“TSB has chosen to close more branches than they plan to keep open in Scotland. I have requested an urgent meeting with TSB.”
A group of SNP MSPs have also written to Ms Crosbie calling for an urgent meeting to discuss the impact of these closures on local communities, and urge the bank to reverse its decision.
The move has already been criticised by campaign groups which said older and vulnerable customers would be hit hardest.
Branches due to close include those in some of Scotland’s most deprived areas.
The company insisted 94 per cent of TSB customers in Scotland would remain within 20 minutes’ travel time of a branch, once closures take effect.
Union Unite described the move as “a dark day for the finance sector”.
The bank will introduce around 50 mobile advisors in some rural communities to deliver face-to-face support for existing customers on basic banking queries and organise further support for them.
The Edinburgh-based bank said the closures, set to begin in early 2021, were not an “easy decision” and had been accelerated by the Covid pandemic.
It said it would “continue to invest in its 62 remaining Scottish branches over the next two years to radically improve the customer experience”.
TSB, which is owned by Spanish lender Banco Sabadell, has been dogged by technical problems, with an IT failure in 2018 leaving up to 1.9 million customers unable to bank online for several weeks.
The full list of Scottish branches set to close is: Aberdeen Culter, Aberdeen Dyce, Aberdeen Kincorth, Aberdeen Mannofield, Aberdeen St Machar, Aberdeen Torry, Aboyne, Alexandra, Alford, Anstruther, Banchory, Bathgate, Bearsden, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Blairgowrie, Bo’ness, Broxburn, Buckhaven, Bucksburn, Burntisland, Campbelltown, Carnoustie, Castle Douglas, Coatbridge, Coupar Angus, Cowdenbeath, Crieff, Cumnock, Cupar, Dalkeith, Dingwall, Dundee Craigiebank, Dundee Lochee, Dunoon, Edinburgh Costorphine, Edinburgh Gorgie, Edinburgh Pilton, Girvan, Glasgow Anniesland, Glasgow Dennistoun, Glasgow Drumchapel, Glasgow Easterhouse, Glasgow Partick, Glasgow Springburn, Grangemouth, Grantown-on-Spey, Hawick, Helensburgh, Huntly, Insch, Johnstone, Kelso, Kilbirnie, Kilsyth, Kirkcaldy, Templehall, Largs, Larkhall, Lochgilphead, Montrose, Nairn, North Berwick, Peebles, Penicuik, Pitlochry, Port Glasgow, Prestwick, Renfrew, Rosyth, Rothesay, Saltcoats, Thornliebank, Turriff, Wick.