North-east politicians have said they are disappointed after it was confirmed a number of Bank of Scotland branches will be permanently closed.
Bank of Scotland said the majority of its customers regularly use other forms of banking, such as online and via the phone, with transactions in branch decreasing.
Mobile branches will be able to be used as an alternative for many everyday transactions, including deposits, withdrawing cash and paying bills.
Sites were planned to be closed between April and October this year, however, were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
SNP MP for Gordon Richard Thomson, alongside SNP group leader for Aberdeenshire Councillor Gwyneth Petrie expressed disappointment over the closure of the Huntly branch, which will shut for the final time on March 29, 2021.
Mr Thomson said: “It is disappointing that the closure of this branch will be going ahead in the New Year. While mobile banks have their place, they are no substitute for a permanent presence.
“Huntly Community Council and the Huntly and District Development Trust have been proactive in seeking a solution to the removal of face-to-face banking services. Retaining face to face access to financial services is vital and their aspiration to establish a town centre financial hub is something that I am happy to support in any way that I can.”
Ms Petrie, who represents the Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford ward, added: “It is disappointing to have a new confirmed date for closure of the Huntly branch, however, I do thank the Bank of Scotland for working with the community council to site their mobile branch in a central location.
“Community organisations in the town are continuing to look at future alternative delivery models for the town, and I would hope that the bank remains open to engaging with the community on this, and the future use of the building.”
Meanwhile, the Turriff branch is also due to close on March 30 next year.
Scottish Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan David Duguid added: “This is very disappointing news and another blow for the High Street in Turriff.
“The timing of this announcement could not be worse for staff, with Christmas just a few weeks away. My immediate thoughts are for those affected.
“I will be engaging with Bank of Scotland to ensure that as many as possible will be offered jobs elsewhere.
“This will also mean another empty unit in the heart of Turriff from next Spring. I hope that the building will not remain out of use for long, as this has a knock-on effect on the rest of the town centre.”
A Bank of Scotland spokeswoman said: “We have made the difficult decision to close the branches due to the changing ways customers choose to bank with us, which means the branch is being used less often.
“We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause; customers can continue to bank locally by visiting the new mobile branch, or the nearby Post Office, which is less than half a mile from the branch.
“Bank of Scotland is introducing a new mobile branch service which will visit the Huntly area. This new branch will provide a personal, face to face service to the local communities it visits, giving customers access to everyday banking services such as making deposits, withdrawing cash and paying bills.
“The new service will be in place prior to the branch closing and our experienced colleagues will be on hand to help customers with online banking and general account and product enquiries. We continue to make a significant investment in our branches are committed to maintaining the largest network in the UK.”
The bank confirmed it would close the Tullos branch on March 9 next year.
Scottish Conservative north-east MSP Liam Kerr said: “I’m extremely disappointed by the Bank of Scotland’s decision to close the Tullos branch, just a few months after TSB decided to shut its bank in the area.
“This is a massive blow to residents and businesses in Tullos who are being stripped of yet more banking facilities, leaving an empty unit in the heart of the area.
“The timing of this announcement could not be worse for staff, with Christmas just a few weeks away.
“My thoughts go to everyone affected by this announcement and I will be contacting Bank of Scotland to ensure staff are offered jobs elsewhere.
“Retaining face-to-face access is vital, especially for groups such as the elderly during such difficult times.”