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Campbeltown’s branch of the TSB Bank is set to close on February 18 2021.
The bank has announced plans to close 73 Scottish branches – resulting in about 300 job losses – due to a ‘significant change in customer behaviour’, with more customers using online banking services.
The closures will also affect branches in Lochgilphead, Dunoon and Rothesay.
Branches earmarked for closure were said to have been selected to ensure 94 per cent of TSB customers in Scotland remain within 20 minutes travel time of a branch – but it will mean a round trip of about four and a half hours to visit the closest branch to Campbeltown, which will be nearly 90 miles away in Oban.
TSB will introduce around 50 mobile advisors in some rural communities to deliver face-to-face support for existing TSB customers on basic banking queries and organise further support for them.
Robin Bulloch, customer banking director at TSB, said: ‘These decisions are the most difficult we take, but we must always be guided by our customers – and we are clearly witnessing a substantial shift towards digital banking.
‘We operate a more extensive branch network than most other banks in Scotland, including some much larger than TSB, and we need to reduce its size to reflect the changing needs of our customers and a fast-evolving operational environment.
‘TSB remains committed to offering high quality banking services in branches across Scotland. We are also introducing mobile advisers to ensure we look after vulnerable customers and those in rural locations.
‘We are working to ensure the transition towards digital – which is being seen right across the economy – is handled sensitively and pragmatically for our colleagues and customers.’
Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell was informed of the plan by the bank’s director of retail banking on Wednesday morning, shortly before the announcement was made.
Mr Russell said: ‘I am angry that once again a large, profitable organisation is withdrawing from this rural constituency purely because of cost cutting. I made it clear to the bank’s director that if they were not prepared to support Argyll and Bute then they could not expect Argyll and Bute to support them and I am sure that many local TSB customers will now transfer to banks which still have a presence in their town although those are becoming ever rarer.
‘Local small towns need to have lively shopping and commercial centres and banks have a duty to be part of that, as they profit from it. I accept that patterns of usage have changed and that each of these branches is operating below the national average in terms of footfall and transactions but we need imaginative solutions including shared premises with other organisations, new business hubs and other innovative ideas.
‘The TSB says that they hope to avoid compulsory redundancies and they have also offered to help existing customers make alternative banking arrangements but welcome as those things are, they are not the answer to the real problem which is a spiral of decline being exacerbated by Covid and Brexit.
‘We need a fresh approach to our small towns and a fresh approach to our ambitions as an area and a nation. The TSB and the entire commercial sector need to help with that, not hinder it.’
Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has revealed that he is demanding an urgent meeting with senior managers of the bank following the announcement.
Mr Cameron said: ‘It is simply not the case that all bank customers are happy to bank online.
‘That is particularly the case in communities in Argyll and Bute where we have a relatively large elderly population and where, in many cases, broadband coverage is poor or non-existent.
‘Moreover, because of the geography of Argyll and Bute, and the long distances involved, it is completely impractical for customers to travel to those few branches that would remain open.
‘The TSB really needs to think again, and reflect on its responsibilities to its customers and to its employees who will be wondering what the future holds for them.’