Midlothian MP reacts to Santander decision to close its Dalkeith branch

Friday March 26th 2021

Written by Midlothian View Editor, Phil Bowen

Santander has announced that its Dalkeith branch is one of 111 to be closed across the United Kingdom.

Commenting on the closure Midlothian MP, Owen Thompson said:

“The continued shrinking of our bank branch network is just not acceptable. I realise many more people use online and mobile banking, but many people do not and this cannot be used as an excuse to cut costs – choice is important.

“Dalkeith is a busy town and it makes no sense to close this branch which was only recently refurbished. It will be extremely inconvenient for customers to take transport elsewhere to do their banking, and for many with mobility concerns that is not an option.

“I am writing to Santander seeking further details of this decision, and see what provisions are being made to protect jobs as well as services.

“I will also be writing to the Treasury to raise concerns as sadly this has become all too common a story. I led a debate on bank branch closures just last year and the government cannot keep shrugging its shoulders. People are fed up with the lack of concern for community by the big banks. Where they continue to let us down, government must step in to protect our communities, and make sure there is adequate provision of cash and bank services in every town.”

A spokesperson for Santander said:

“Our customers are continuing to change the way they manage their money, visiting our branches much less and enjoying the convenience of doing their day-to-day banking using Online, Mobile or Telephone Banking. This change has been happening over a number of years now and has accelerated in recent times.

“Because of these changes, we’ve carefully and thoroughly reviewed the way we deliver our services and considered many factors, including where each of our branches are located and how they’re used.

“We know our branch network remains important to our customers and whilst we’ve made the difficult decision to close some branches, we’ve only done so where we know there are other facilities our customers can use, and where we have another branch within a few miles.

“We’ve assessed each branch individually to consider the potential impact for our customers, colleagues and the alternative options available to bank locally.

“We’re committed to fair banking through the Access to Banking Standard, which is overseen by the Lending Standards Board and aims to help minimise the impact of branch closures on customers and local communities.”

This time last year Owen Thompson organised a debate in Westminster on the subject of bank branch closures

“Where the financial services markets fail, we need the Government to step up to the plate. We could introduce a public service obligation to protect the last branch in town, for example, and ensure that people have a right to a physical bank branch. The Treasury Committee agreed, saying that “intervention by Government or the FCA may be necessary to force banks to provide a physical network for consumers.”

“It suggested they could “make changes to competition law to allow banks to share facilities”.

“I would be keen to see that. For the Government to keep brushing this off as a commercial decision is to neglect their responsibility. There are options to intervene; in fact, they have a duty to do so, for the wellbeing of millions of citizens.”

To read a transcript of last year’s debate CLICK HERE.

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