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'Caring' Clydesdale bank slogan rings hollow to an Aberdeenshire community as it shuts branch

Closure fight: Gillian Young and protesters at the doomed branch and, above, the bank slogan Closure fight: Gillian Young and protesters at the doomed branch and, above, the bank slogan
‘We Care About Here’ claims the Clydesdale Bank – a boast that now sounds like a bad joke for one Aberdeenshire community facing the closure of its branch.

The Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, owned by National Australia Bank, are axing 28 of their 320 branches over the next six months. Among the closures is the Clydesdale branch in Alford.

But the community will not let the branch shut without a fight. Villagers have set up a petition with more than 1,100 locals calling for the bank to reconsider the closure.
John Latham, 57, an independent councillor at Aberdeenshire Council, who lives in Tough, five miles out of Alford, says: ‘The closure is a real disappointment. Rural communities like this will see it as part of a decline where local shops already struggle. It is another nail in the coffin in their fight for survival.’

Barbara Henderson, who runs the newly opened Albayarn wool yarn shop in Alford is also bitterly disappointed by the planned closure.

She says: ‘We have to innovate to survive so why can’t the bank be the same and learn to adapt rather than just think short-term and close down our branch?’

Historic buildings consultant Gillian Young, 41, architect of the petition, says: ‘No one from the bank has even bothered to consult us. Surely they could at least listen to see if we could find a better solution.’

The village is also served by a part-time branch of Royal Bank of Scotland, a TSB Bank that opens two days a week and a Bank of Scotland van that visits weekly.

The next nearest branch of Clydesdale Bank, where accounts will automatically be moved to, is in Banchory – 19 miles and a half hour drive away and not directly served by a bus service.

Clydesdale Bank is keen to put a positive spin on the closure claiming it is only targeting ‘unsustainable branches’. The £5million of savings from the closures will be ‘fully reinvested in improving the remaining branch network.’

David Thornburn, chief executive of Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank, says: ‘Our resources must be focused on delivering the best results for customers. A branch network remains at the core of what we do.’

Other banks are also axing branches. Royal Bank of Scotland is closing 44 between now and July – 14 of them are the last branch in their community. There are also fears that as many as 400 of Barclays’ network of 1,577 will be closed this year as it embarks on a £1.7billion savings drive.

Author: Toby Walne
Source :Financial Mail On Sunday

 

Last modified onSunday, 04 May 2014 04:39

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