Bank of Scotland’s plan to close the only bank in Loanhead has provoked fury in the town, with locals starting a petition to save the branch.
It was announced last week that the bank on Clerk Street will be one of 14 Bank of Scotland branches across the country to close on May 4.
The bank blamed a drop in the number of counter transactions at the branch for making the “difficult decision”.
A ‘Save Loanhead Bank of Scotland from Closing’ petition was immediately set-up on Change.org when the announcement was made.
Loanhead Community Council chairman Pat Kenny said: “People are absolutely fuming and disgusted with the way the bank has gone about its business here.
“Loanhead is growing very fast, there were hundreds of houses built in the last year and has another 150 to be completed this year.
“It just doesn’t make business sense to close it. For me there is no good business reason for closing this branch. Where are people going to go? They are forcing us all to go online or into town to get a bank.
“It’s really disgusting the way they have treated the people of Loanhead. They have had our business and money for many years and now they are going to leave us with a hole in the wall. It’s just not good enough. It seems that these decisions are made and can’t be changed. Let’s hope we are the first to change these kinds of decisions.
“People like to go into a bank. Not everybody likes to do their business online, and there is certain things people want to discuss face to face.
“I think Bank of Scotland should have really serious look at what they are doing to people in this country. The people in Loanhead deserve better.
“We will be having meetings with anyone in the community concerned about this. We will be meeting out MP, MSP and councillors as well.
“Hopefully we can find a compromise to keep it open.”
Midlothian North MSP Colin Beattie (SNP) said: “We are seeing far too many branch closures locally and it is simply unacceptable. Having a local bank is vital to communities and the Loanhead branch is an indispensable service for many local people.
“Alternatives need to be sought instead of simply closing bank branches without thorough consideration or consultation. We should not simply be offered ineffective substitutes, such as post offices. We need to have a face-to-face banking branch that adequately addresses the needs of the community.
“I would call on the UK Government to act and work harder to protect our local businesses and communities from careless decisions like this.
“I would urgently ask the Bank of Scotland to rethink the reckless decision to shut local services, as this only puts their customers at a disadvantage. I am determined to continue fighting for a better deal for my community with local businesses.”
Midlothian MP Owen Thompson (SNP), said: “I am shocked to learn that Bank of Scotland are proposing the closure of their Loanhead Branch this May. This is the only bank in Loanhead and this decision is clearly short-sighted given the significant population increase in the local area.
“It is not good enough that constituents and local businesses will have to make longer journeys to have access to essential services that they should have locally. The Bank of Scotland need to reconsider this decision immediately.
“In light of this announcement I have spoken to Bank of Scotland to call for an urgent meeting which is due to take place in the coming days. I also highlighted this issue to local Councillor, Kelly Parry and to Pat Kenny, chairman of Loanhead’s Community Council, who share my concerns that this closure will bring loss to the local community.”
Midlothian West councillor Kelly Parry (SNP) said: “The community in Loanhead will be hugely disadvantaged by this decision, which will have an impact on the most vulnerable of residents, as well as the Loanhead business community. I urge the Bank of Scotland to reconsider this shocking move and protect this vital face to face service for Loanhead.”
A Bank of Scotland spokesperson: “We have made the difficult decision to close our Loanhead branch due to the changing ways customers choose to bank with us, which means the branch is being used less often.
“We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause. Customers can continue to bank locally by visiting the nearby Post Office, or our nearest alternative branch in Bonnyrigg.”
He added that the number of counter transactions made by customers using the Loanhead branch decreased last year by eight per cent, and by 48 per cent over the last five years. And that customers could use a nearby Post Office.