Lamont backs calls for tougher rules to prevent rural ATM closures

Consumer watchdog Which? have published new research which Scots are increasingly struggling to access cash.

Since 2015, 339 Scottish bank branches have closed their doors while 290 ATMs have been withdrawn in the past year.

In the Scottish Borders, RBS and Bank of Scotland branches have been closed in recent years, resulting in the loss of a number of ATMs.

This is a particular issue for rural parts of Scotland, like the Borders, where many communities rely on a single ATM or already have to travel to get access to cash.

A number of communities across the Borders rely on a single ATM, and are facing the prospect of losing access to cash, including Chirnside, Cockburnspath, Melrose, Newtown St Boswells, St Boswells, Earlston and Burnfoot.

Other organisations have raised similar concerns. The Federation of Small Businesses have launched a ‘Save our Cashpoints’ campaign amid warnings from businesses that one in five ATMs could be set to close.

Local MP John Lamont is supporting a call by Which? for the UK Government to better protect access to cash. In 2015, the UK Government set up the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), which has a responsibility to protect access to cash.

Commenting, John Lamont MP said: “We’ve lost far too many ATMs in the Borders as a result of bank branch closures, so we know exactly the effect this can have on high streets and local businesses.

“The loss of an ATM just encourages locals to do their shopping elsewhere and puts visitors off. In Coldstream some businesses suffered a 20% fall in sales when they lost their cash machine and I don’t want to same to happen to other communities in the Borders.

“I have already written to the Payment Systems Regulator to urge them to strictly enforce the current rules which are meant to prevent rural ATMs closing. This trend needs to reverse before serious harm is done to our rural towns.”