SOUTH Ayrshire residents face a 60-mile round trip to their nearest bank after branches leave the area "one by one".

Plans for the Bank of Scotland to close the doors of its Girvan branch next February has prompted South Ayrshire Council to write and express disdisappointment, as well as concens for residents in rural areas.

Independent Councillor Alec Clark said that the move will not only affect a significant number of constituents, it would also impact on the local economy and force rural customers into a 60-mile round trip to their nearest branch in Ayr.

In a motion to the final meeting of the council, he asked the council’s chief executive Eileen Howat to write the the bank "to express the disappointment of South Ayrshire Council at the loss of physical branch banking services to not only the residents of Girvan and South Carrick but also to other towns within South Ayrshire which will lead to the nearest bank branch to remain open being in Ayr".

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He continued: “The Bank of Scotland in Girvan provide essential face to face services for a generation of people who are not online, for those of the most vulnerable in our society such as residents of North Park Court who have learning difficulties, for those in our outlying rural villages who will now have to travel up to thirty three miles for full physical banking services.”

Clark outlined the broader impact on a town centre that has struggled in recent years.

He added: “It is also a major blow for retail footfall and town centre regeneration.

“The possibility of a shared banking Hub in no way compensates for a full face to face service which dedicated staff have provided over the years some of whom now face a very uncertain future.

“This is of course a sign of the times which has affected many towns all over the UK. However no cognisance is or has been taken of the decimating effect this policy of closing branches has on our high streets and the fact it has a detrimental and socially isolating effect on many within the local communities.”

He slammed the banks, such as the BoS-owner Lloyds Banking Group, for taking the taxpayers’ support in 2009 during the financial crisis but not giving their own customers the same consideration.

He said: “As the population suffers a cost of living crisis they are not showing the support to people that was shown to them.”

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SNP councillor Peter Henderson, who has now retired from his seat in Girvan, seconded the motion.

His party colleague, Troon councillor Craig Mackay said: “I can very much appreciate the difficulties facing Girvan. We have had the exact same situation in Troon.”

He said that "one by one" the banks "turned their backs on the town".

“They do now have a banking hub which opened last month, but I agree that it is not as good as a full banking service.

“Just like Girvan, Troon served the surrounding villages and I see it is much more of an issue in Girvan. If you are Barrhill that is a huge journey up to Ayr and back.”

Girvan Conservative Gavin Scott added that he was looking to set up a meeting with the bank headquarters about the situation.

New SNP group leader William Grant said that Maybole had "lost all our banks years ago" and agreed that the sloganeering of the banks did not match the reality.

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Independent Prestwick Councillor Hugh Hunter said: “I will be supporting the motion, but I would urge local members to lobby the bank to ensure they leave their ATM there.

“In Prestwick we are fortunate to have a spread of ATMs, but when the Co-op closed their bank I tried to get them to retain the ATM and they refused. Their policy was no bank, no ATM. Don’t sleepwalk into having nothing at all in Girvan.”

The motion was agreed.

The Bank of Scotland said its review had taken into account a number of factors and that a "detailed impact analysis" was carried out at the Girvan Branch.

This included:

  • How often customers use the branch and how that usage is changing.
  • Current services available in the branch and the branch opening hours
  • Assessment and check of alternative ways to bank including their proximity and accessibility
  • Assessment of public transport, availability and frequency
  • Assessment of Broadband availability
  • Impact on our customers including those who are vulnerable or may need additional support

They added: “We’ve shared the closure plans for this branch with LINK who on behalf of the Cash Action Group have independently assessed the access to cash needs of the local community.”