Disappointment and concern has been voiced by Local people surrounding the news that another local bank branch is to close in the region.
Virgin Money has confirmed plans to close in Victoria Street, Newton Stewart in November – leaving customers who wish to engage face to face with their bank staff, a 43-mile trek to Ayr for the next nearest Virgin Money branch.
The news comes just weeks after Barclays announced the closure of its branch in Castle Street, Dumfries.
Finlay Carson, The Galloway and West Dumfries said it was disappointing that Virgin had taken its decision especially, as with all rural branch closures, it will most seriously impact on older customers.
He said: “It is extremely worrying that another local bank branch is to close its doors after being part of the community for so many years.
“It will obviously seriously affect elderly customers who much prefer the personal touch and seeing a friendly face when they are going about their banking business.
“While I accept that more and more people are banking online or digitally, this is not always an option for some people in rural areas as they often don’t have the necessary broadband back-up to do this.”
The Scottish MSP has written to Virgin seeking more information as to how it will support local customers and the assistance the bank will provide prior to the closure.
Mr Carson continued: “It is important that Virgin engages directly with customers to ensure that they know exactly what other forms of banking will be available locally, including using the local post office.
“I have also asked Virgin what procedures are in place to make sure that the building is properly maintained in the event that it doesn’t get taken over in the short or long term.
“The last thing we want to see is another building fall into a state of disrepair and become an eyesore for the local community.”
In a letter to the local constituency MSP, Virgin Money said it had been a “difficult decision and was not taken lightly”.
The bank said it was contacting all customers to advise them on alternative ways to bank, including online, mobile and telephone channels. It would also direct them to the location of the nearest Post Office and ATM.
It insisted the decision to close a branch is based on a number of factors, including footfall, transaction volumes and the number of potentially vulnerable customers in the area.
Careful consideration is also given to the impact on the local areas as well as the needs of vulnerable customers and the accessibility of alternative services such as free-to-use ATMs and Post Offices.
Postmistress Arlene Da Prato said she had not been contacted personally by Virgin Money but was aware of the closure plans.
She said: “We helped many local people with their day-to-day banking needs when the Royal Bank of Scotland closed its branch. The vast majority of customers appreciate the personal touch that we provide and will continue to do so.
“If anyone requires any banking assistance then they only have to ask and I will help them in any way I can.”