Bank of Scotland customers face 40 mile round trips after 15 branches axed across country
A further 15 Bank of Scotland branches are to be closed later this year as part of an efficiency programme by Lloyds Banking Group which will see a total of 56 branches axed across the UK.
Villages and towns across rural Scotland are among those targeted by the latest round of closures, which the banking giant said was in response to changing customer behaviour and a move towards online banking.
Banking union Accord said the closures - which will take place between April and October - were expected to reduce staff numbers by "under 80," with some employees redeployed to other branches.
While Lloyds has promised its mobile banking service will be rolled across rural areas affected by the closures, Bank of Scotland customers face lengthy journeys in order to visit their nearest branches.
The bank’s customers in Killin, Stirling, will instead have to make a 41 mile-long round trip to their nearest Bank of Scotland in Callander.
Those who rely on the bank in Huntly in Aberdeenshire face a similarly lengthy trip in order to get to their closest branch in Banff, while its customers in Granton-on-Spey will have to travel 28 miles to Aviemore and back.
Jillian Morris, who runs Shutters, a restaurant and coffee shop on Killin’s Main Street, located just a minute’s walk away from the village’s Bank of Scotland presence, said the closure of the branch would be widely felt.
“We use the bank for our business, and in the summer visit at least once a week. Now, we’ll be looking at an hour’s round trip in our busiest season, when we have a million and one other things to do,” she said.
“The majority of people who live here are older and don’t do online banking - the idea of using mobile apps terrifies them, they prefer to go into a branch in person - so I think it’s going to have a big impact.” As part of the cuts, a total of four branches in Edinburgh - Dalry Road, Greenside, Liberton, and Tollcross - will also close their doors.
Lloyds said the closures were in part driven by a reduced number of transactions in its branches.
However, statistics prepared by the company and published on the Bank of Scotland’s website show a total of 2,593 customers use the 15 branches regularly on a monthly basis.
As part of the UK-wide closures, a total of 31 Lloyds and 10 Halifax branches will also close.
A Lloyds Banking Group spokeswoman said: "We are committed to having the largest branch network in the UK and, in addition to our branches, all our customers can also use the Post Office to access their banking locally, alongside our mobile branches which visit many rural communities.
"We have confirmed that a number of branches will close between April and October this year.
"This is in response to changing customer behaviours and the reduced number of transactions being made in branches."
It comes as the bank continues its closure programme which affected Lloyds and Halifax sites in 2019.
In a statement, Accord said: "We fully appreciate that the demand for high street branch banking is diminishing as customers increasingly move to app-based banking but we'll be examining Lloyds Banking Group's plans to ensure that they're properly thought through and robustly evidenced.
"So far, all branch closures have been managed without compulsory redundancies and Accord expects the same outcome here.
"We'll be contacting our members who are impacted by the closures to offer support and representation."
According to the consumer group, Which?, the LLoyds group closed 569 branches between January 2015 and August last year, including 95 Bank of Scotland branches.
The latest Bank of Scotland branches set to close are:
Edinburgh Dalry Road