Reduced Rothesay bank opening hours spark fear and anger

The Rothesay branch of TSB. Photo by Iain Cochrane.
The Rothesay branch of TSB. Photo by Iain Cochrane.

The decision by TSB to only open its Rothesay branch two days a week instead of five has sparked anger from local politicians and business leaders.

The move by the bank to open its Montague Street branch on only its busiest days - Tuesdays and Wednesdays - from July, comes after the closure in recent years of the island’s Royal Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank branches. The only other bank still open on the island is the Bank of Scotland branch across the road from the TSB.

Speaking about TSB slashing it’s opening days, local independent councillor and Argyll and Bute Provost Len Scoullar said: “Having been a business owner here when I ran the Black Bull, I would sometimes get cash to cover the weekend. So I don’t know where businesses will go other than the Bank of Scotland, which I hope stays open.

“And just generally banking will be hit. It’s terrible.

“I think it’s a bad thing for the residents of the island and maybe a discouragement to visitors to the island as well.

“It’s bad for the economy of the island, both with residents and visitors. I’m disappointed to hear this news.”

Fellow local councillor Jim Findlay (SNP) said: “I’m concerned about this pattern of a banking trend for rural and island communities.

“If the bank closes for this number of days how is the cash machine going to be filled? In the tourist season especially.”

Local MP Brendan O’Hara (SNP) said: “I am extremely disappointed to hear about the TSB, with only one other remaining bank, this is yet another blow to bank customers on the island.

“This is part of a very worrying trend; a trend that seems to be accelerating with each passing year and one will inevitably lead to banks on the High Street being the exception, rather than the norm.

“Although being presented as a reduction in opening hours, I fear this particular announcement is simply branch closure by stealth. I don’t see how any branch can sustain its presence on such restricted trading hours.

“Time and again, Bute is being dealt blow after blow despite all that the island has to offer.

“I am so disappointed that with so many banks, customer loyalty seems to be their last consideration.

“I will be contacting the TSB seeking assurances about the long-term future of the Bute branch.”

Hisashi Kuboyama, the Federation of Small Businesses development manager for Argyll & Bute, said: “TSB is reducing opening hours in branches up and down Scotland, including in Rothesay. We fear that this might eventually lead to the bank closing their doors for good.

“In Rothesay, these changes will reduce local footfall, hurting the vibrancy of our high street. It will make it more difficult to run a business, especially if you operate in our cash-dependent retail and hospitality industries.

“UK Ministers must stop sitting on their hands when it comes to bank branch closures and uncertainty over our ATM network. We need to see policymakers look at the impact of these sorts of closures on the economic health of local communities.”

A TSB spokesperson said: “Customers are changing the way they interact with us and over the past few years we have seen the usage of branches continue to fall, with many customers increasingly using alternative TSB branches, online, mobile or telephone banking to access TSB banking services.

“These changes mean that we have taken the difficult decision to close four branches that are no longer commercially viable. We are also reducing the opening hours of a further 72 branches in Scotland to keep them commercially viable.

“Our principle aim is to try and stay within these local communities – by reducing hours in some locations it allows us to do this.

“Our branch partners are working with our customers to support them as we make these changes and we can confirm there will be no job losses.”