Disabled man hits out at bank closures across Capital

Due to branch closures Peter Gibbs nearest bank will be Wester Hailes Plaza
 which is not even wheelchair friendly. Picture; Ian Georgeson
Due to branch closures Peter Gibbs nearest bank will be Wester Hailes Plaza which is not even wheelchair friendly. Picture; Ian Georgeson
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A DISABLED man has accused banks of discrimination – because he can’t fit his wheelchair through their doors.

Peter Gibb, who has cerebral palsy, is forced to travel from Currie to Wester Hailes after his local Bank of Scotland branch shut down last year.

But the 60-year-old says he has been frozen out of the new branch because the disabled facilities are so poor.

Mr Gibb claims his wheelchair is too wide for the door – which resulted in him jamming his hand the last time he visited.

He said the next nearest branch was more than four miles away at the Gyle and that he had to rely on his carer driving him there.

Mr Gibb said he was fighting for disabled people across the Capital.

A recent survey carried out by DisabledGo showed that very little improvement has been made since 2014 in 
making high streets more accessible for disabled people.

Of the 1295 retailers DisabledGo visited, 23 per cent did not have access for wheelchair users.

Mr Gibb said: “I feel like I’m getting discriminated against because I’m in a wheelchair.

“It’s just not fair when you are trying to be independent. I can’t fit my wheelchair on a bus so I now have to rely on my carer driving me to the bank all the time. I used to enjoy going on my own.

“When my local branch closed down I was told I could use the post office but I can’t because there are steps 
outside it.

“I was then told I could use the facilities at the Wester Hailes Plaza but it isn’t disabled-friendly in the slightest.

“The door isn’t wide enough and I jammed my hand the last time I went in.

“I just want to highlight this problem because I know a lot of elderly and disabled people in our community feel the same.

“Something needs to be done. I can’t just use cash machines to do my banking, I need face-to-face service.

“I thought about switching to the Royal Bank of Scotland which is just down the road from me, but it’s shutting this year too.”

Councillor Ricky Henderson has supported Mr Gibb’s concerns and said something needed to be done to solve the problem.

He said: “We have had discussions with both the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland and they don’t appear to be particularly concerned or active considering the impacts these closures are having on the elderly or disabled.

“Decisions are obviously made at a corporate level and thought is not being given to those who are vulnerable.

“This has been a major concern among many of my constituents.”

A spokesman for Bank of Scotland said: “When we announced the closure of our Currie branch in August 2016, we considered the impact on all customers as part of the closure process.

“Customers can use any of our branches and there are several alternatives in Edinburgh. One alternative is our branch in the Gyle shopping centre, which has disabled parking bays positioned near each entrance with easy access to all entrance doors.”

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk