Politicians have challenged bank bosses to prevent future branch closures in the north-east – by using them as community hubs.
MSPs debating the issue this week backed the idea of holding a summit between politicians and banking chiefs in an effort to keep branches open.
Royal Bank of Scotland shut branches in Ellon, Huntly, Dyce, Bridge of Don, Banff and Turriff this spring and Clydesdale closed its Mastrick branch in June.
Both banks claimed footfall in these branches had fallen and they were responding to customer demand for services.
During the Holyrood debate, north-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald referenced a Scottish Government report which analyses the impact branch closures has on communities.
Mr Macdonald said: “Among several good recommendations made in the report, I highlight the one that calls on the Scottish Government to ‘call a summit’ to get banks to work together to provide access to shared services through, for example, a shared banking hub in a community.
“I hope ministers will agree to do that. Why not have banks working together? It is clearly a better solution for everyone than getting to a position in which bank after bank is closing.”
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North-east Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles also backed the idea of a summit. He said RBS had closed four branches near him since 2015, so he must now travel 66 miles to visit a branch.
He said: “The difficulties faced by small businesses and individuals are obvious.
“Difficulties are being experienced by community groups and charities, with church groups particularly badly affected as they take collections in cash.”
Aberdeenshire East SNP MSP Gillian Martin added: “The effect of bank branch closures is on the social inclusion of the elderly and those on low incomes, in particular.
“A person cannot internet bank if they do not own a computer.”
And Scottish public finance minister Kate Forbes said: “My commitment is to continue to engage with the banks on the issue.”