East Lothian Courier – 13 April 2023


News of another bank closing’s a blow. This time it’s RBS in Tranent but it follows in a long list across every town and by all the major banks in East Lothian. It’s an issue for business as cash must be acquired and deposited. Hassle, as well as security issues arise for them.

It’s also leaving another big gap on our struggling High Streets. Times have long passed, when as in George Street in Edinburgh, super pubs acquired the premises. Now the pub trades in retreat from existing High Street venues never mind acquiring new sites.

Similarly, there’s only so many cafes a community can have, especially when there’s less cash in people’s pockets to spend. It’s yet another empty site to be filled and the absence compounds problem for existing businesses, as well as affecting footfall with less reason to venture there.

Now I confess to using internet banking and a visit to a bank for me is as rare as writing or receiving a cheque and I’m also not alone. So, I accept that times have changed and the days of the bank and bank manager in every town are gone and won’t ever return. But there’s still a need in our communities for banking facilities.

Worsening this is that it’s happening as access to free cash line facilities is diminishing. Several existing outlets are becoming pay to use. If the Bank goes and there’s not even a free cash line left, then hardship for the most vulnerable occurs, not just hassle for the rest of us.

Many operating in cash, do so not just because they lack access to a PC, never mind internet banking, but their funds are so limited, it’s how they survive. They’re hammered with an additional charge, a double whammy for the poor.

Mast sharing’s provided by telecoms companies, reducing the need for many and allowing for shared benefit, irrespective of operator. Why can’t banks ensure that at least one of them provides an outlet in each of our communities, allowing access for depositing and collection, as well as free cash line access.