MSP Joan McAlpine today attacked banks for closing cash machines in the south of Scotland during a debate in the Scottish Parliament.
The MSP spoke up after a threat to cash lines was posed in Annan and Lockerbie.
Ms McAlpine made the comments as MSPs debated plans from LINK - the UK’s biggest provider of free to use cash machines – to reduce their interchange fee for card providers, a move which will reduce the financial viability of free to use ATMs, and result in more ATM closures and disproportionately impact rural areas.
Ms McAlpine commented:
“As is the case with anything to do with the financial sector, it is quite hard to get to the bottom of who is responsible. However, Link’s membership is comprised of 37 banks, so the scandal, again, looks like it comes from the banks.
“The decision by LINK to reduce the interchange fee is all the more concerning as it comes against the backdrop of local branch closures. Three market towns in Dumfries and Galloway —Langholm, Lockerbie and Annan—which are close together, are all threatened by Royal Bank of Scotland closures. That problem was added to recently by the proposed closure of a Santander branch.
“While fighting such closures, my constituents were assured that, at the very least, they would still be able to access cash from cash machines. Now, we are told that Scotland will be among the hardest hit by a drop in the number of free-to-use ATMs.
The SNP MSP – who has campaigned against local branch and ATM closures – added:
“I recently discovered that applications have been made to Dumfries and Galloway Council’s planning department for the removal of an ATM in Annan. My understanding is that that closure is directly linked to the reckless decisions on bank closures that were made by RBS.
“People are rightly incensed by the idea that the banks, which caused such carnage in 2008, are imposing more damage on communities. I hope that the banking sector will learn from the events of the past few months and recognise that there is a continued need for face-to-face provision as well as cash withdrawal and deposit machines.
“Link must acknowledge its social responsibility as the network to which almost every cash machine in the UK is connected. It is the role of the UK-wide Payment Systems Regulator and the Bank of England, which also regulates Link, to ensure that consumers are able to access cash effectively and efficiently. Perhaps it is time for them to step in and force Link to revise its plans.”