Campaign launched to save bank

The petition was launched in Aboyne on Saturday
The petition was launched in Aboyne on Saturday

A major campaign is under way on Deeside to save the Clydesdale Bank in Aboyne.

Bosses are under growing pressure to reconsider their decision to axe 40 branches across Scotland and six in Aberdeenshire.

The nearest Clydesdale branch for Aboyne customers is in Banchory

The nearest Clydesdale branch for Aboyne customers is in Banchory

A petition was launched in Aboyne on Saturday which has gathered hundreds of signatures.

Local politicians and business leaders have also called on Clydesdale to rethink the closure move which it says has been prompted by greater use of internet banking.

Clydesdale has pledged to work closely with customers affected by the closure programme.

The Aboyne bank - which local people warn is vital to the community - is due to shut on May 17 with the nearest branch in Banchory.

It will leave the village with a single ATM.

Local councillor Geva Blackett, who helped launch the campaign at the weekend, said: “People come from far and wide to use this very busy branch, it is absolutely vital to the economy of the area as is the ATM.

“I sincerely hope the bank are listening to what the people they serve are saying and reverse their decision – I urge everyone to lend their support to this petition.”

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine SNP MP Stuart Donaldson, along with other North-east MPs, is seeking an urgent meeting with Clydesdale chief executive David Duffy. He said: “The North-east is home to many local, small businesses and these branches play an important role in keeping them running.

“Making banking harder for these businesses is not going to make business any easier.

“The Aboyne branch does not only serve the people of Aboyne, but also Ballater, Braemar and many other villages.

“The closure of this branch will mean a large part of Deeside will be left not only unserved by Clydesdale, but without any bank that is open all week.”

Aberdeenshire West Conservative MSP Alexander Burnett said that in areas like Aboyne people still relied on the bank and wanted face-to-face contact.

He added: “It is a sign of the times and changing customer habits that local bank branches are closing across the country.

“Not everybody will be in a position to drive to Banchory, while local bus services are not always as reliable as they should be. “I will be contacting the bank to ensure that those who need to access services can still do so at the Post Office and that these changes will be communicated clearly to all customers well in advance of the closure.”

Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside Councillor Peter Argyle said: “The Clydesdale Bank has been a high-profile presence in Aboyne for a great many years.

“I have no doubt that its closure will impact on the whole of Deeside and call on the bank to reconsider. This branch is one that is vital for its customers, for local businesses and for the community.

“I will be looking at what steps are open to us to try and reverse this very damaging decision by the bank but recognise that changing the Clydesdales mind will not be easy.”

Catherine Ward, FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) development manager in the North-east, said: “This closure comes at a time when small firms in Deeside are already struggling to access banking services.

“Increased reliance on limited Post Office facilities and poor broadband connectivity have seriously impacted the ability of small businesses to bank effectively. This hurts their productivity and, ultimately, their bottom line.

“Many of our towns have already lost local services because of big business or public sector re-organisations. And while on paper, it might make short term commercial sense to rationalise operations, the long term impact of these decisions on local communities could destroy the efforts to rejuvenate our high streets and save our town centres.”

The announcement has alarmed local businesses.

Jim Anderson, of Holidaymakers (Aboyne Travel), said: “We are extremely disappointed that we are losing our local bank that we have banked with for the last 18 years.

“We will no longer be able to see a member of staff to resolve any account issues. Ringing a call centre does not provide anywhere near the same customer service. Losing the face-to-face contact with customers will do the bank no favours in the long run.”

Fiona Mallett, who drives the community bus for retired residents in Strathdon, said: “I pick people up from as far up Strathdon as Corgarff, bring them to Aboyne where they do their banking, get their messages and have a cup of tea in the local cafe before we head off back.

“It’s the old and vulnerable who will suffer if this branch closes, and the businesses will suffer too.”

Posters will be placed in each affected branch advising customers of the impending closure.

Written notification will be sent at least 12 weeks before any branch closes providing details to customers on the

alternative ways of continuing to manage their accounts, including nearest branches, ATMs and Post

Office counters - which Clydesdale Bank customers can use for day-to-day banking.