IAN BLACKFORD:MP for Ross, Skye & Lochaber

IAN BLACKFORD MP SUPPORTS COMMUNITY COUNCIL CALL TO RETAIN FORTROSE HIGH STREET CASH MACHINE.

Ian Blackford MP is supporting a call from Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council to retain a cash dispensing machine in Fortrose High Street after the Bank of Scotland branch closes its doors in September.

The bank had previously announced the branch closure due to falling numbers of customers actually using the bank, favouring instead, online banking, but also providing a mobile bank service. This was refuted by local people, claiming that restricted opening hours was a factor in reducing footfall and criticising the Bank management for failing to consult with local people on the plan.

Now the Bank, again without informing the community has put in a planning application to remove the cash dispensing machine from the High Street, causing concern that nearby businesses may be affected as people withdrawing cash from a machine elsewhere in the town would be less inclined to return to High Street shops to spend it.

Ian Blackford MP said: “I have already been in communication with Bank of Scotland management over the closure of this branch and their lack of engagement with the local people on the services they need. Once again they have made a decision which obviously is best for them, but with no consideration of the impact it may have on Fortrose.

“From my discussions with the Community Council they are suggesting that perhaps it could be relocated to a business premises somewhere in the High Street and I support them on that. However, with only a few weeks to go, time is against them on this. I have once again been in touch with the Bank of Scotland, asking that this proposal be considered”.

Sarah Atkin, Chair of Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council said: “We were shocked to see the planning application for the removal of the Bank of Scotland ATM and have submitted an objection.  Our view is that this is a premature move.  We don’t yet know the detail of how the new mobile banking services will operate and so far there has been no dialogue between Bank of Scotland representatives and the community.

“The convenience of an ATM anchoring this end of Fortrose High Street helps sustain High Street retail outlets.  Without it, over time shopping habits are bound to change and small local businesses will suffer.  We hope that discussions with Bank of Scotland representatives can take place very soon so a satisfactory way forward can be found”.

Ian Blackford said: “I can see that there are real concerns in the community about losing the personal contact of a bank branch and will make every effort to back Community Council proposals on retaining a machine in the High Street”.

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