'˜I want answers from Bank of Scotland', says pensioner

A pensioner in the Highlands whose home is joined to a Bank of Scotland branch earmarked for closure says he has been left frightened and afraid after not being told by the bank who will pay for maintenance and security or about long-term plans for the property.

Michael Baird outside the Bank of Scotland branch in Bonar Bridge due to close in September, which is in the same building as his home.

Michael Baird, 68, who has lived in his home at Bonar Bridge, Sutherland, for 25 years, said he first knew the bank was to shut on 5 September was when he read about it on Facebook on 5 April.

Mr Baird, who previously raised concerns about the bank reducing its hours, said: “I was never told a thing and obviously very taken aback to read about the closure on Facebook.

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“I’m angry and upset about not being told anything, never mind the cost and responsibility of dealing with all the everyday maintenance such as the shared entrance hall and roof, downpipes, stonework, and wondering what they’ll do about heating and the escalating vermin problem.

“Bank of Scotland should have had the decency to explain what was happening, they’re treating me and people up here with a lack of respect.”

The branch in Bonar Bridge was established as the Caledonian Bank around 1860 and before becoming a Bank of Scotland in the early 1900s.

Among those also affected by having a property attached to a Bank of Scotland branch are the family of author Rosamunde Pilcher who use her home in Dornoch as a holiday home.

Bank closures, including those by other groups such as Royal Bank of Scotland, have become a key issues in next week’s local elections, especially in remote, rural areas where customers face lengthy journeys to alternative branches.

Earlier this month Lloyds Bank announced the locations of 100 branches closing between July and October, including Bonar Bridge. These are part of programme of 400 branch closures. The bank has said closures reflected changing banking habits with falling numbers of customers using branches.

A spokesman for the Bank of Scotland said: “There has been no change to the maintenance of the property since the announcement earlier this month. Ahead of the branch closing in September, we will continue to speak with Mr Baird to address his concerns.”