Clydesdale Bank’s decision to close its last remaining Midlothian branch has provoked shock and anger across the county.
The Clydesdale Bank has announced that its 157-year-old branch on Dalkeith High Street will close on April 20, one of 40 branches in Scotland being axed.
The news has drawn particular concern from the local business community.
Gordon Henderson, senior development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “These closures come at a time when small firms across Scotland are already struggling to access banking services. Increased reliance on limited Post Office facilities and poor broadband connectivity have seriously impacted the ability of small businesses to bank effectively.
“This hurts their productivity and, ultimately, their bottom line.
“Our research shows that small businesses feel there is no substitute for in-person advice when tackling complex financial matters.
“Physical branches are also a critical resource for our many members who deal heavily in cash, and therefore need regular access to over-the-counter banking.”
Mr Henderson says this is another blow to the town centre.
He said: “Faced with competition from out-of-town retail parks at Straiton and Fort Kinnaird, the many large supermarkets in the area, and the growing trend to shop online, Dalkeith’s town centre has been struggling and this is yet another blow. Not only does the Dalkeith branch support a great many local small business owners, it supports local jobs and so the Midlothian economy.”
Clydesdale Bank has stated that customers can either travel to the Musselburgh branch, use online banking, or go to the local post office following the Dalkeith closure.
However, the news has sparked anger from local politicians.
Midlothian North MSP Colin Beattie (SNP) has launched a motion at the Scottish Parliament highlighting this issue, he said: “This will be an inconvenience to customers, particularly elderly ones. A trip to Musselburgh would cause real problems to customers of the bank who have mobility issues or who do not have access to transportation.
“Additionally, what about the staff of the Dalkeith branch? With this closure, some people may find themselves without a job, creating issues not only for those who frequent the bank,but for those working there as well.”
Dalkeith councillor Margot Russell (Lab) said: “The Clydesdale Bank has been there forever and obviously a lot of local businesses and local organisations use that particular branch. In fact, two or three organisations that I’m in use that branch.
“It will be tragic for the Dalkeith area to lose another bank.”
Midlothian MP Owen Thompson (SNP) said: “I will be writing to the Clydesdale Bank to express my very serious concerns over this closure and its effect on the local community of which it is a vital part. I will be urging them to reconsider this decision as a matter of urgency, and to address how their business transformation can best support the continued operation of local branches, which are vital to sectors of so many Scottish constituencies including my own.”
Clydesdale customer banking director Gavin Opperman 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 continue our journey towards a model that combines an enhanced digital platform with a right sized branch network; allowing customers to interact with us through a wide range of channels – mobile, online, telephone, in-branch – whenever and however they want.”