LAST week saw the announcement that Virgin Money would close its branch in Musselburgh.

This is very disappointing news for my constituency, which has already seen the closure of the Dalkeith branch. Musselburgh was promised to be the alternative to serve Virgin Money customers in Musselburgh, Dalkeith and the surrounding areas and now they have broken their promise to their customers. Customers will be expected to travel to Edinburgh for any in-person services they should require directly from the bank, which we know is not just a five or 10-minute journey for those in East Lothian and Midlothian.

We are seeing bank closures around the country happening on a regular basis, with customers often being redirected to Post Offices to fill the gap. However, even in my own constituency, I am seeing our Post Offices also being closed, which leaves the most vulnerable in our communities isolated.

I understand the main reason is decline in footfall and increase of other services such as telephone and mobile banking. Yet there is a lack of understanding and consideration for those, especially the elderly, who choose not to use these facilities or do not have the required technology to carry out any online banking.

Services such as banks and Post Offices are vital for our high streets and our local economy. It is also important that high street services remain accessible and inclusive for all who require them. If a local permanent branch is not an option for a bank or post office then they must consider alternatives, such as weekly pop-up branches for the area.

The issue of both Post Office and bank closures is a reserved power by the UK Government and it is limited what action the Scottish Government can take. I have, however, sought reassurances from the Scottish Government that they will continue to press the UK Government and help protect our local services.

I have requested a meeting with Virgin Money later this month to discuss the matter and will press for an alternative solution.