Campaigners fighting to keep the Clydesdale Bank in Aboyne are now focused on saving the ATM - after the bank refused to overturn plans to close their Ballater Road branch.
Aboyne’s only full-time bank is set to shut on May 17 as one of 40 Clydesdale branches in Scotland that will cease trading as part of a major restructure.
But after a petition was launched by the local protesters, Stuart Donaldson MP, local Councillor Geva Blackett and two prominent community representatives met with Clydesdale Bank officials last Wednesday to express their concerns over the plans.
They told the Piper Clydesdale claims that the face-to-face banking in Aboyne has dropped significantly, making the branch unsustainable.
But with just two ATMs in the village, and high usage of the Clydesdale cashpoint, there are high hopes of salvaging some form of banking facilities in Aboyne.
Cllr Blackett said: “The amount of activity at the ATM during our meeting with bank officials proved how well used it is and they took away a very strong message from us all that Aboyne needs this ATM in a prominent place which is accessible to all.
“Ideally the bank will provide one that accepts cash and cheque pay-ins because the post office is not open late at night when many quite a number of people need to make deposits – following functions for example.”
Mr Donaldson added: “Even at 6.30pm, while we were meeting in the bank, there was a steady flow of transactions through the cash machine.
“It’s clear this is a very well used facility and the representatives from Clydesdale acknowledged there is a strong case to keep this.
“There is still a real need to ensure all customers can access their bank and we put forward a number of suggestions to the representatives including a shared facility with other banks to reduce costs but show a commitment to the local community.
“It remains to be seen if this will be seriously considered as I recognise there would be commercial and logistical challenges to overcome.
“They have, however, made a commitment to educating local users on how to do their banking online and on the phone and will give serious consideration towards keeping an ATM and cash deposit drawer in Aboyne.”
Duncan Robson, local architect, said: “As a businessman I recognise that sadly a business case does not exist that would persuade the Clydesdale Bank to change their mind about the closure.
“However, we had a good meeting with senior officials and it was clear that they listened to our reasoned arguments that they should retain some services in the village and we look forward to hearing back from them shortly.”
Aboyne resident Fiona Mallet added: “I am disappointed for those customers of us who do not want to use internet or phone banking that they will lose the face to face interactions we are used to.
“But I welcome the news that free lessons will be made available for any customer who does want to go down the internet/phone route.”
A Clydesdale Bank spokeswoman said: “We are continuing to actively engage with local stakeholders and having met and listened to their concerns we will now try to retain an ATM within the town.
“This does, however, depend on finding a suitable alternative location.”