Clydesdale Bank announces plan to axe branches across Lothians
Anger has been sparked across the Lothians after another major banking group announced branch closures.
From April, Clydesdale customers in Edinburgh, Bathgate and Dalkeith could be forced to travel up to six miles to find their nearest bank, or use their local post office.
The banking giant said it wanted to create an “integrated digital, mobile, telephone and branch service for its customers”.
But it comes after Royal Bank of Scotland recently announced plans to close half of its Edinburgh branches this year, while Bank of Scotland closed two Edinburgh branches.
In total, Scotland will see 40 of its Clydesdale Bank sites close, three of which are in Edinburgh.
Councillor Nick Gardner and Councillor Marion Donaldson, who represent Leith Walk, hit out at plans to close their local branch, expressing concerns for elderly residents.
Cllr Gardner said: “We are dismayed by this decision and do not understand how the Clydesdale Bank can justify this. Leith Walk is a high-density area. Elderly people depend on this branch and need face-to-face service.
“Dozens of hard-pressed small businesses need the service for making cash deposits and will suffer greatly if they have to travel into town to bank.”
Councillor Lewis Ritchie, who represents the same area, added: “The local bank is at the heart of every community. My thoughts are with Clydesdale employees who face the prospect of losing their jobs.”
Two other branches that have been earmarked for closure include Bernard Street, in Leith, and the Edinburgh University branch at Nicolson Square.
Customers who formerly used those branches will now be directed to a new flagship site, which is due to open on George Street on January 30.
Owen Thompson, SNP MP for Midlothian, said: “It is disappointing to hear of the proposed closure of the Clydesdale Bank branch in Dalkeith, which will leave my Midlothian constituency without any Clydesdale branches.We must remember that not everyone has the means or capability to bank using computers or phones and many customers prefer – or indeed need – personal interaction with their bank, and should have the options to use counter services without having to journey to East Lothian to do so.
“With three other Lothians branches scheduled for closure, they are even limited in their options in central Edinburgh.”
Gordon Henderson, senior development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses, said the closures would hurt small businesses.
Gavin Opperman, customer banking director at Clydesdale Bank, said: “While the decision to close any branch is never an easy one, it is important that we, in line with other banks operating in the UK market, continue to respond to changes in the way customers want to bank with us.
“The changes announced today continue our journey towards a model that combines an enhanced digital platform with a right sized branch network.”