As my constituents may be aware, the Bank of Scotland branch on Albert Drive closed on the 27th July this year. After being contacted by a number of my constituents with concerns about this closure, I was able to raise these concerns directly with Bank of Scotland.
Please find Bank of Scotland’s response to my query about the Albert Drive branch closure below:
“I understand that the closure of our Bank of Scotland branch in Pollokshields last month was disappointing for some members of the community.
“We never take the decision to close any branch lightly. In this instance, the decision, was based on careful analysis of the usage of the branch over the last few years.
“Before we made the announcement, we carefully considered the impact closing the branch would have on our customers. Our team visited the community to see for themselves the impact that closing the branch would have, looked at the alternative banking options available, and assessed the availability of public transport to get to the closest alternative branch.
“We also looked at all information available to us – including the ways customers are choosing to bank with us, the number of vulnerable people in the local area, and the accessibility of alternative banking facilities including the Post Office. After carrying out this assessment, we only went ahead once we were satisfied there are suitable alternatives and sufficient access to cash locally.
“As part of the industry-wide Cash Action Group process, LINK also independently reviewed overall cash provision in Pollokshields prior to our announcement being made. Given the alternatives available, they did not recommend any additional services.
“Over the last five years, the number of transactions in our Pollokshields branch had continued to fall. The decline in transactions reflects wider trends across the industry, as people choose to use branches less often – accessing services over the telephone or online, or via the Post Office. The majority of our customers now choose to bank with us in more than one way. For example, 83 per cent of our personal customers at Pollokshields branch were already using other branches and other ways to bank such as Internet and Telephone Banking.
“Our Bank of Scotland Glasgow Victoria Road branch is less than one mile away and there are regular direct trains to Victoria Road with a journey time of 5 minutes. Our Glasgow Shawlands branch is a little over one mile away and takes around 10 minutes to travel to on the bus. Currently both Glasgow Victoria Road branch and Glasgow Shawlands have extended opening hours in comparison to Pollokshields branch giving customers more convenience when they choose to visit the branch.
“Through our commercial arrangement with the Post Office, all Bank of Scotland customers can withdraw and deposit cash for free over the counter, and pay in cheques, at any branch of the Post Office.
“There are also other alternatives in the community including a number of free-to-use cash machines in the area, including three within 0.5 miles at Day Today, Kenmure Street, Friends Convenience Store, Pollokshaws Road, and Sainsbury’s, Darnley Road.
“People can also use telephone banking or our online services. This means that for many of the day-to-day transactions required by our customers in Pollokshields, there is no need to travel to an alternative Bank of Scotland branch. Many customers find the ease of these alternatives to be preferable to travelling to and from a branch. For those looking to open a bank account, or apply for a loan or a mortgage, applications can be made online, or by phone. For those customers wanting to talk to a mortgage adviser face to face and from a place that suits them, our video call service could be the perfect option. More details can be found on our website.
“You can be assured that branch staff talked to customers about the service the local Post Office offers and helped those who wished to learn about how to use online and telephone banking. Prior to the closure branch staff contacted vulnerable customers to help them understand the options available to them and supported them through the transition. We understand that some older customers may have concerns about banking online, although only 7 per cent of customers who used the Pollokshields branch are aged 75 plus. We also have a ‘Digital Helpline’ which offers free one-to-one guidance over the phone to support customers using the Internet for banking. Customers with an identified need for this service were provided with contact details, enabling them to get free support if required. We will also supply a free tablet and SIM card with data in cases where people cannot afford to go online.
“Our online banking provides a variety of tools for managing a customer’s money. If customers are apprehensive about using this, we have a section on our website with a step-by-step guide, showing how they can get set up. We also have a section that explains how customers can protect themselves online. Further details can be found on our website here.
“We also try to make sure banking is easy for people of all abilities and needs. Customers who have a disability or impairment or would just like extra help can find out more information about the ways we can support them by discussing things with local branch staff or by visiting our website here.”