Santander Banking Closures

The MP for Angus today called on all High Street banks to launch “rural hubs” to help communities struggling from a litany of closures.

Kirstene Hair told MPs that Santander’s recent decision to close two branches in Forfar and Brechin means 100,000 people have only one between them.

In a Westminster debate on the impact of bank branch closures, the Scottish Conservative MP said that poor broadband speeds in her constituency, inadequate public transport links, and the limitations of using Post Office branches for transactions mean banks should keep a physical presence in rural areas.

Ms Hair said High Streets rely on easy access to cash for customers, and cashless transactions present an expensive problem for small business.

This presents a problem for Angus, which saw 12 branches close in only four years, leaving Kirriemuir and Edzell without a branch of any description.

Ms Hair told colleagues it would take cross-party work to “soften the blow” of bank closures in each and every one of our communities.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, acknowledged the “very strong passions” of people surrounding branch closures, particularly during a visit to Scotland in August.

He credited Ms Hair and supportive colleagues over the "need to bring banks together".

Mr Glen added: "There's no regulatory bar to that and that may be a model for banks to reflect on.

"Representatives from Santander are in earshot, and I think this may be something they wish to take forward."

Ms Hair said later:

“To ensure that our high streets are not allowed to continue down this path, I have now written to the CEOs of Santander, the Bank of Scotland, and the Royal Bank of Scotland to call for greater coordination and investigate the creation of shared rural banking hubs.

“These shared premises would allow banks to offset the costs of maintaining a physical site, while still providing a much-needed service for the people of rural communities.”