Santander slammed for Fife bank branch closures

Politicians have condemned banking group Santander after news that the firm is closing its branch on Kirkcaldy High Street.

Santander are closing two Fife branches.

Kirkcaldy MSP David torrance said: “I am extremely disappointed by the news that Santander have announced their intention to close their Kirkcaldy High Street store.

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“This will have a hugely detrimental impact on the many people within our communities who are not comfortable with, or able to use, digital banking and unfairly affect the most vulnerable in our communities.

“The closure of yet another branch will mean many more people will have to travel significant distances to access their bank, often-incurring significant travel costs that some simply cannot afford.

“Having the option of face-to-face contact when seeking financial advice or discussing life-changing decisions such as loans or mortgages is extremely important.

“Whilst I appreciate the changing face of banking and the decline in cash transactions, I believe banks have a duty to consider the needs of the community as a whole, and ensure continuing access to financial support, services and cash for everyone.

“I would urge Santander to work closely with its customers to ensure this happens.”

Lesley Laird MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath said: “This is yet another blow for Kirkcaldy High Street and for staff, but it also raises wider concerns given my dealings with Santander over recent months.

“While the bank states 51 per cent of customers at the branch use alternative forms of banking, a significant number cannot or choose not to.

“I’m still having ongoing dialogue with Santander to reimburse Kirkcaldy customers who lost nearly £300k last summer due to Automated Push Payment (APP) fraud over the phone.

“I have consistently expressed my concerns about the speed and scale of bank branch closures and the push to drive customers to mobile and online solutions. While technology is undoubtedly changing the way we bank, It is imperative that the pace of that change can be met by fit-for-purpose security systems for these methods of banking.

“Customers must have the same assurances that bank security systems can cope, and that they can continue to have the same confidence in the system that they have come to expect through the branch banking network. Time will tell.

“I’m due to speak to senior representatives at Santander next week and I’ll be raising these points.”

Mid-Scotland and Fife Labour MSP Claire Baker said: “This is yet another devastating blow to local banking and to the high streets of Kirkcaldy and St Andrews, as yet another bank decides to close up, regardless of customers’ needs.

“Santander is just the latest in a long list of banks that have pulled out of local towns, leaving customers facing long journeys to their nearest branch or the prospect of having to switch banks.

“Many in the area may have already switched to Santander following other bank closures and will now be considering switching again. We cannot expect locals to chase banks around as they continue to flee our town centres.

“This is also a big blow to the local economy as it will inevitably lead to job losses and will impact many of the local businesses that rely on the bank to carry out essential, and often time-sensitive, transactions.

“Workers, customers and local businesses that rely on these branches will rightly be angry that it is once again they that are being let down in the pursuit of profits for shareholders.”

Mid-Scotland and Fife Conservative MSPs Dean Lockhart, Liz Smith, and Murdo Fraser slammed Santander.

Mr Lockhart said: “This is yet another blow for Kirkcaldy high-street, which is already suffering with store closures and lack of footfall.

“It is clear that the way in which we use banks has changed considerably in recent years, and I can understand the rationale behind closing a branch if no-one is using it.

“However, there are still a lot of vulnerable people out there who don’t use internet or telephone banking and need to have that face-to-face contact.

“There are also many deprived communities who still rely on access to cash as a primary form of payment.

“There are now less and less reasons for people to come into the town centre, and I genuinely worry that more bad news could be on the way unless more is done to encourage people into town.

“Measures such as free parking could go some way to reversing the trend, and Fife Council really need to take the situation more seriously.”

Mr Fraser said: “This is a deplorable decision by Santander. To close three branches – two in Fife and one in Alloa – is a brutal move and will leave many customers without a banking service.

“Santander is a bank that is also used by many businesses so it means they will have to look elsewhere for a suitable place to bank their money.”

He added: “This is something we have already seen in towns like Comrie following the departure of the Royal Bank of Scotland. It seems a harsh decision, particularly for elderly customers who probably don’t have access to online banking or mobile banking.”

And Ms Smith commented: “This announcement will come as a great shock the many people that use Santander in Fife and Alloa.

“Banks are a vital facility for a community. To close branches down in this manner will rip the heart and soul out of these communities.”

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