Could ALL the banks be coming back to Forres?

Forres has been earmarked for a new banking hub following the closure of the last high street bank in the town.

Such hubs provide an opportunity for banks to have a presence where it hasn’t been viable for them to run their own branch, such as in the case of the Royal Bank, TSB and finally the Bank of Scotland which closed in July this year.

After research work by Link, the association which oversees the nation’s ATM network, Forres is one of four towns in Scotland in a list of 13 across the UK to be lined up for a ‘banking hub’ – one single location where multiple banks have a presence.

The hub would be operated by the Post Office in collaboration with the major banks, based on a prototype trialled in the Essex town of Rochford, and Cambuslang in Glasgow, which operate with banks on a daily cycle from Monday to Friday.

Determining needs

The Link organisation studies the needs of communities in relation to access to cash, travel distances, demographics and vulnerability.

Moray MP Douglas Ross took up the issue with Link and discussed the potential of having a banking hub in the town.

He said: “This is a very positive step forward for the future of banking services in Forres and I look forward to these plans developing at pace in the coming weeks and months.

“I have engaged positively and constructively with Link and Access to Cash since the Bank of Scotland announced plans to shut their branch in Forres. I was keen to ensure plans were developed as quickly as possible for a banking hub and to make the strongest possible case for Forres to be one of the communities to be served by a Banking Hub. 

“These hubs have proved very successful elsewhere so far and I am confident we will see the same in Forres. I will continue to engage closely with Link and Access to Cash as well as local community campaigners to ensure that a suitable location can be found for this hub, and that it meets the needs of customers in the town.”

MSP Richard Lochhead said: “This is something I’ve been calling for and I know this news will be welcomed by the community.

“We now need this to happen quickly – access to cash is essential and the community needs this service to be established as soon as possible.

Before the bank of Scotland closed, Forres Local surveyed more than 400 people. Many of them suggested what they thought was an obvious solution, all banks operating out of one location.

Obvious solution

Customers of the Bank of Scotland seemed to have the solution long before the closure happened.

Pearl Hamilton, who runs Pearl’s Pet Care in Tolbooth Street, said: “There have been calls for years for shared financial hubs in most towns – also fell on deaf ears! Bank of Scotland at the very least ought to consider a mobile bank in their car park at the rear, where there are security cameras and additional parking nearby, not too much to ask for a town this size.

Customer Sarah Turnbull said: “Something should be done to either keep the bank open or to use a building where various banks can operate under one roof.”

Alasdair Joyce added: “Why can’t all the banks maintain a presence and share one facility? If they expect us to use the post office instead they are paying another company to do just that…. This is very poorly thought out and B of S, this customer was not consulted.”

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