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Business / Lerwick TSB branch to close later this year

The bank said it plans to open a ‘pop-up service’ three days a week following the closure

The Lerwick TSB branch. Photo: Jim Mullay/Shetland News

THE LERWICK branch of the TSB bank is set to close later this year.

The bank said it is closing a number of its buildings across the country due to the decreasing number of people using its branches.

It said across its network more than 95 per cent of transactions are now being made using mobile, online and other ways to bank, instead of in branches.

The Lerwick branch, located opposite Victoria Pier, is slated to close on 10 September.

But the bank said it will offer a pop-up service for the community three days a week in rented premises which would include making payments.

A TSB spokesperson said: “We have not taken the decision to close our Lerwick branch lightly but must respond to changing customer demand as transactions in the branch have fallen by 45% over the last four years.

“We recognise there will be some customers in Lerwick who still want a face-to-face service from TSB.

“To support these customers, we will open a pop-up banking service, which will be available in the community three days a week following the closure. Pop-ups help customers with their banking needs – such as making payments, getting help with products and services, and assistance with bereavements.

“There is also a Post Office or free to use ATM within a mile of the Lerwick branch.”

For example there is a pop-up service in Kirkwall in Orkney which is held in the St Magnus Centre.

TSB said it “always looks carefully at the impact a closure may have on the community” before making a decision.

It found that for personal banking customers in Shetland, 73 per cent also used mobile, online or telephone banking.

For business customers that figure rose to 79 per cent.

The TSB said: “If you are a member of the local community and would like to contact us about these changes, you can pop into a branch or if you are a personal banking customer call us on 03459 758 758, and if you’re a business banking customer call us on 0345 835 3858.”

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A branch review document highlighted how the nearest TSB branch is in Inverness – nearly 300 miles away.

TSB confirmed today (Wednesday) that it intends to close 36 branches in total, as well as cut jobs in its fraud and central operations – with the Unite union expressing concern, saying it was a “grave mistake”.

The total job loss stands to be around 250.

North Isles councillor Ryan Thomson said he was “very concerned” by the Lerwick news and the potential impact it will have on customers in his ward, and across Shetland.

“Bank branches in island areas are vitally important, closing branches has a significant impact on everyone who uses the branch, but in particular those people with disabilities and olde people,” he said.

“Internet banking will most likely be blamed, but with areas in Shetland still without any sort of proper broadband or mobile connectivity, this is yet another step backwards for islanders.

“I hope this does not set a precedent for other banks with branches in Shetland to do likewise.”

Conservatives’ Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said: “TSB’s decision to close branch in Lerwick adds to a worrying trend of banks prioritising digital services over face-to-face accessibility.

“This neglects the needs of many, particularly older customers who rely on traditional banking. We know that over-65s often prefer face-to-face banking and some are uncomfortable with online banking due to trust issues, lack of IT skills and fear of fraud.

“As branches disappear, those living in our rural areas and on our islands are often left with limited or no alternative for their banking needs.

“The banking sector and government must do more to work to keep branches open or, if that is not possible, promote the establishment of banking hubs to meet the needs of those who need a face-to-face service.”

A TSB spokesperson said about its announcement of branch closures: “The decision to close a branch is never taken lightly, but our customers are now doing most of their banking digitally and we need to move to a better balance of digital and face-to-face services.

“We remain committed to a national branch network and through innovation and integration with video, telephone, digital, branch and other face-to-face services TSB customers have more ways to bank with us better than ever before.”

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