PLANS to close the TSB branch in Tranent in June have been revealed, as the bank gets ready to close 17 of its Scottish branches.
The decision comes just six months after the Royal Bank of Scotland shut the doors of its Prestonpans branch, and has been described as bad for the town and bad for the bank’s reputation by East Lothian MP George Kerevan.
He called for a united campaign to bring together MPs from each community affected to bring maximum pressure on the bank to reverse its decision, as TSB announced it was closing 29 branches across the UK.
East Lothian MSP Iain Gray also hit out and described the loss of local banks in the county as a “depressingly regular occurrence”.
Mr Kerevan, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking at Westminster, said: “For TSB to brand itself a local bank and close its branch in Tranent is a contradiction in terms. Closing the TSB in Tranent is bad for the town and bad for the bank’s reputation. I am seeking an urgent meeting with senior TSB management to demand an explanation.
“TSB actually plans to shut 29 branches, 17 of them in Scotland. The only way to fight this is through a united campaign involving every area affected. I have therefore contacted the MPs covering the threatened TSB branches to arrange for us all to meet and plan joint action to bring the maximum pressure on the bank to change its mind.”
And he said the closure – which comes just six months after Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) closed its Prestonpans branch, despite it being the last bank in the town – made no sense.
He said: “It is clear that the big banks are targeting East Lothian for cutbacks in service. This makes no sense given the rapid growth in the local population. It’s just a case of the banks cutting costs with no regard to the impact on their customers.
“As a member of the Treasury Select Committee in the House of Commons, I will be questioning senior bankers regarding this crazy plan.”
Meanwhile, Mr Gray said the decisions by TSB and RBS not only affected their customers but had a direct effect on town centres.
He said: “The closure of local bank branches is becoming a depressingly regular occurrence in East Lothian.
“This announcement follows hard on the heels of RBS’s closure of the last bank in Prestonpans last year and a number of other local branches over recent years.
“The banks claim that the closures are necessary because of a drop in customer use. However, this does not recognise the fact that those who continue to use branches are often not willing or able to access alternative banking options. In addition to hitting these customers, closing local branches also has a negative impact on town centres.”
TSB said the closures were part of a £250million investment in branch and digital services and the branches closing were not well used.
A spokesperson said: “While we continue to focus on upgrading branches people use most, some locations are very quiet, serving fewer than 200 people a week. In some cases this is because there is another branch nearby.
“Customers are welcome at any TSB branch, including the Musselburgh branch, which will remain open and is around four miles away.
“Our customers can also carry out their everyday banking at the local Post Office in the Spar Store, 43 High Street, Tranent, just 100 metres away.
“There will be no job losses as a result of these changes and all partners at Tranent will be offered roles in other nearby branches.”
East Lothian Labour Party has launched an online petition to stop the closure.
Ward councillor Jim Gillies said: “Tranent High Street lost its Dunfermline Building Society branch just a couple of years ago and the RBS branch has been put under extra pressure following the Prestonpans closure.
“To lose the TSB will be a real blow, particularly for older customers. That’s why we’re opposing the decision.”
The petition against the closure of the branch can be signed online at bit.ly/2kiKaUh