Fife community ‘disgusted’ over closure of last bank in village

The closure of the last bank in the East Neuk has left locals “disgusted”, according to a community council chairman.

TSB announced it would be closing its Anstruther branch.
TSB announced it would be closing its Anstruther branch.

It was announced last month that TSB would be closing its branch in Anstruther, leaving the town with no access to face-to-face banking.

Andrew Peddie, chairman of Anstruther, Cellardyke and Kilrenny Community Council, said the decision will impact on businesses and on elderly residents.

He also described it as a “slap in the face” to customers who switched to TSB after other banks “deserted” the town.

“Local businesses have been hard hit by Covid-19, and this decision will make things even more difficult. With poor mobile phone reception in the area many still have to rely on cash payments. The closure will mean one less option for customers to draw cash and for businesses to bank the cash.

“The East Neuk has a very high proportion of elderly residents, many of whom do not have access to technology and have relied on the personal service from the local branch to pay utility and other bills.

“I hope that TSB will now engage with the local community and help find solutions for the problems this closure will undoubtedly cause. The TSB strapline is ‘Local Banking For Britain’ – this will have a very hollow ring for customers in the East Neuk abandoned by the bank.”

His comments were echoed by local businessman Martin Dibley, owner of Pets Pantry.

“For face-to-face banking, business owners will have to travel to Leven or St Andrews,” he said.

“That takes a considerable time out our their day. They won’t be able to pay in on their lunch break.

“We’re with TSB and do all of our paying in through the Post Office. That’s how it’s going to go. The Post Office network needs to be strengthened.”

Mr Dibley also warned that the closure will have a huge impact on the elderly population, especially those who have not embraced online banking and still rely on the face-to-face services.

However, even for those who are comfortable with online banking, using services can still be an issue in the East Neuk.

Poor broadband connections and mobile coverage in north east Fife means it can be challenging to access those services.

MSP Willie Rennie said: “To expect all customers to go online when broadband connections in so many parts of north east Fife are so ropey is not reasonable or practical.

“This could result in people being denied effective and easy access to banking services. This is yet another sound reason for the TSB to reverse this ill informed and ill thought through decision.”

The Anstruther branch is one of seven across Fife that TSB will be closing, as part of 73 closures across Scotland.

Around 300 jobs will also be cut as part of the closures.

The Fife branches set to go are Templehall in Kirkcaldy, Burntisland, Buckhaven, Cupar, Cowdenbeath and Rosyth, as well as the branch in Anstruther.

TSB said the cuts have been driven by a significant change in customer behaviour, including a reduction in the numbers using branches, and a significant acceleration in digital adoption.

It also said the 94 per cent of the banks chosen for closure were within 20 minutes travel time of another branch.

Robin Bulloch, customer banking director, said: “These decisions are the most difficult we take, but we must always be guided by our customers – and we are clearly witnessing a substantial shift towards digital banking.”