Jobs at risk in Edinburgh and Lothians as Santander announce 140 closures

Santander has announced plans to close 140 of its branches in the UK, including three in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Wednesday, 23rd January 2019, 12:20 pm
Updated Wednesday, 23rd January 2019, 3:39 pm

As part of a major restructure, the banking giant is decreasing its number of UK branches to 614, which could result in as many as 1,270 job losses.

The mass block of closures includes three branches in Edinburgh and the Lothians, with branches at Leith Walk, Morningside Road in the Capital and George Street in Bathgate to be axed.

The Leith Walk branch is set to close on the 9 May followed by Bathgate’s George Street branch on 16 May and Morningside Road on 12 December.

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Santander is to close 140 UK branches. Picture: JP

The lender said the closures are in response to how customers are choosing to carry out their banking.

Santander has consulted unions on the proposed changes and will seek to find alternative roles for the 1,270 staff members affected, wherever possible.

The bank expects to be able to redeploy around a third of that number.

Susan Allen, Santander’s head of retail and business banking, said: “The way our customers are choosing to bank with us has changed dramatically in recent years, with more and more customers using online and mobile channels.

“As a result, we have had to take some very difficult decisions over our less-visited branches, and those where we have other branches in close proximity.

“We will support customers of closing branches to find alternative ways to bank with us that best suit their individual needs. We are also working alongside our unions to support colleagues through these changes and to find alternative roles for those impacted wherever possible.”

Labour MSP, Kezia Dugdale, criticised the closures, commenting: “I’m deeply disappointed that Santander have taken the decision to close these branches including Leith Walk.

“High street bank closures have become an epidemic in recent years and these closures have a particularly negative impact on elderly and vulnerable customers, as well as local small businesses.

“It’s time our banks recognise instead that they are a utility providing an essential public service.”

Ms Dugdale added: “What we need is a change in the law to help protect our high streets from losing banking facilities and so that they can continue to support our communities and small businesses.”

Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative Lothian MSP, said he has written to the banking group in a bid to get them to review their decision to axe the three Lothians branches.

He said: “Whilst I understand the need of banks to have branches that are cost effective I am concerned about the impact that this will have on people in Edinburgh and Bathgate.

“In particular many Santander customers who are pensioners and do not use online banking will have to travel further from their homes to do their banking and will be especially inconvenienced.

“I have written directly to Santander to raise the concerns of constituents on the closure of these branches that will have a detrimental impact on their access to the bank and asking Santander to review their decision to close these branches.”

Similarly aggrieved was Edinburgh Northern and Leith SNP MSP, Ben Macpherson, who said: “Closing the Santander Bank branch at the bottom of Leith Walk would affect many of my constituents who use the branch.

“With the nearest alternative branch on Hanover Street, the closure of this branch in the centre of Leith, a densely populated urban area, would have an impact on accessibility for the local community, especially those with mobility issues.

“I urge Santander to recognise the importance of this for financial inclusion in Scotland, and reconsider the planned closures.”