Local MSP, Colin Beattie met today with Virgin Money to discuss the announced closure of the Musselburgh branch. The closure was announced last month with Virgin Money closing 12 branches in total in Scotland.
The reason cited is a 30% drop in footfall which they state was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic with few regular customers now visiting the branch. Virgin Money have stated the alternative for customers is to visit a local Post Office.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“I am furious with Virgin Money’s decision to close the Musselburgh branch. They made a promise to customers after the closure of the Clydesdale Bank branch in Dalkeith that Musselburgh would be the alternative – not a Post Office. They have gone back on this promise and let their customers down with no remorse shown for doing so.
“No thought has been given by Virgin Money on the pressure this will put on Post Offices locally and I am concerned about this being the only alternative. Across my constituency, I am not only seeing bank branch closures but also the closure of Post Offices. This leaves my constituents in a very isolated and disadvantaged position should both their local bank branch and post office branch closes.
“This decision shows the ignorance of banks towards local communities and the vulnerable in those communities. Not every single customer has the skills or equipment to complete banking transactions digitally, and it will also impact the smaller local business which use the branch regularly.
“Around 50 small local businesses will be affected by this decision. It must be remembered that where smaller businesses do have the capability to accept card transactions, many still accept cash. When it comes to simple tasks such as depositing cash, these smaller businesses will now face the burden of travelling further to a local branch or paying for a collection service.
“If banks no longer want serve our local communities then who exactly do they serve? The removal of their services further impacts the economic development of our high streets where people go for convenience that will no longer be offered.
“This continuous pattern of banks deserting local communities is one which must be tackled sooner rather than later. The powers to do so primarily lie with the U.K. Government at Westminster. However, I have myself raised this with the Scottish Government to continue to put pressure on the U.K. Government to prevent this problem from worsening, before our communities, especially the most vulnerable are completely abandoned.”