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Douglas Ross MP and Richard Lochhead MSP in discussions with Link over Bank of Scotland Forres closure

By Garry McCartney

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Bank of Scotland at 102 High Street is closing leaving Forres with no bank. Picture: Becky Saunderson
Bank of Scotland at 102 High Street is closing leaving Forres with no bank. Picture: Becky Saunderson

LOCAL politicians are working with a national cashline provider ahead of the closure of Forres' last remaining bank.

And a proposal for the local community could be on the table by the middle of July.

Moray's MP Douglas Ross has held a "positive" meeting with Link as Moray MSP Richard Lochhead continues to liaise with the network over assessments they are carrying out into access to cash facilities.

Mr Ross secured a meeting with senior officials from the company after raising concerns over Bank of Scotland’s plans to close their High Street branch next month, with customers transferred to Nairn, rather than the nearest branch in Elgin.

He said: "I was keen to relay my serious concerns to Link about the prospects of getting cash for residents and businesses in Forres. The meeting explored options as to how these services can be maintained going forward.

"The idea of a banking hub is one I am keen to explore and I will be interested to see what Link’s research that they are going to carry out will come back with."

Mr Ross met with Link’s chief commercial officer Adrian Roberts as well as Ian Vernon from the company. Cat Farrow from Access to Cash was also in attendance.

Mr Roberts confirmed that senior representatives from the company and the Cash Action Group (CAG) met with Mr Ross and his team.

And Mr Roberts added: "Maintaining access to cash for the community is vital as not everyone is ready or able to use digital payments.

"Link and CAG agreed that Forres needs help and we are working on a suggested answer now.

"We will have a proposal for the community by mid-July."

The option of a banking hub was discussed at the meeting, as has been piloted elsewhere in communities where there are no remaining banks.

Mr Ross said: "At the moment Forres does not qualify for one according to the criteria at present but that can change. The needs of people and businesses in Forres will only increase when the final bank branch closes its doors.

"I will meet again with Link in a month's time to see what progress has been made. I am encouraged there are some options that I am determined to explore."

Mr Lochhead agreed "there is a real possibility that the people of Forres could be left high and dry."

He said: "The last bank in Forres closing its doors for good will be a huge blow to many customers, businesses and the wider community.

"I continue to liaise with Link over the assessments they’re carrying out into access to cash facilities."

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