Bank of Scotland has announced it will close its branch in Forres High Street.
The branch is one of 60 banks being closed across the country by the Lloyds Banking Group which also includes branches of Halifax and Lloyds. This news comes after TSB recently announced they will close their branch, also on the high street, which would have left Bank of Scotland as the only remaining bank.
News of this closure today will leave Forres with no banks, and politicians have vowed to urge the banking group to reconsider their decision.
The TSB is set to close on 26 April and it is believed the Bank of Scotland will shut its doors on 11 July.
Moray MP Douglas Ross called it ‘totally unacceptable’ causing anxiety to older members of the community and difficulty for businesses who need to deposit cash.
Mr Ross has urged the Bank of Scotland to urgently reverse their decision and guarantee that residents and businesses in Forres won’t be left without a bank in the town.
He said: “It beggars belief that the Bank of Scotland are set to close their branch in Forres. It is absolutely outrageous given TSB are already planning to close their branch in the town.
“If the Bank of Scotland press ahead with these plans, residents and businesses in Forres will have no bank at all. That is totally unacceptable and a dereliction of duty to loyal customers.
“Many of these customers, particularly our elderly and vulnerable local resident will be hugely anxious at the prospect of losing their local bank.
“Broadband and mobile connections are not reliable in rural and remote parts of Moray so online services from banks are no substitute for a local branch, and many customers still prefer carrying out banking services face-to-face.
“On top of that local businesses rely on having a bank open nearby to deposit their cash each day. They would now face the prospect of having to travel miles away just to deposit their takings.
“I am urgently seeking talks with Bank of Scotland to call on them to immediately re-think their decision to abandon the people of Forres, who will suddenly find the prospect of accessing banking services far more difficult.”
Richard Lochhead MSP also hit out at the decision, and has written urgently to the UK Government demanding action to prevent banks closing the last bank branch in a community, and he has sought an urgent meeting with the Bank of Scotland.
The MSP said: “Bank of Scotland’s announcement that it plans to close its Forres branch later this year will come as a huge blow to their customers and local businesses.
“The closure of the last bank in the town is devastating for Forres and will leave many people without access to much-needed services. We’re getting to the point where Elgin is the only place left with branches open, which is a ridiculous situation for us to be in.
“It seems the rules in place to ensure communities have access to cash aren’t worth much if banks are allowed to go ahead and close the last bank in a town like Forres. The UK Government has made promises to legislate to ensure access to cash but aren’t treating this issue with the urgency that’s needed.
“I’m seeking an urgent meeting with the Bank of Scotland and will be urging them to abandon plans to close their Forres branch but it is farcical that rules allow them to shut their doors and leave the community without a single bank.”