Highlands & Islands

Last bank on the Black Isle closes

Bank of Scotland in Fortrose
Image caption Fortrose's Bank of Scotland closed at the end of business on Monday

A large area of the Highlands has been left without a bank for the first time in 200 years.

The last bank on the Black Isle, a Bank of Scotland in Fortrose, closed at the end of business on Monday.

Other banks have already closed branches on the peninsula, which includes the communities of Cromarty, Munlochy and Avoch.

Bank of Scotland said the number of customers visiting its Fortrose branch had fallen to about eight weekly.

It said the number of counter transactions made by personal customers decreased last year by 30%.

Cash machines will continue to be available in the village, and Bank of Scotland said a mobile bank visits Fortrose twice a week.

'Fewer customers'

David Richardson, Highlands and Islands development manager at the Federation of Small Businesses, said few banks now remain open in the wider north Highlands.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: "North of Inverness, 10 banks have closed in the last two to three years.

"This has massive implications for local businesses, the banks' local customers and visitors."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The bank says customers will still have access to cash machines and a mobile bank service

Mr Richardson said the methodology being used to shut branches "failed" to take into account that the days they were open had been cut.

He said: "If you are open less, you will have fewer customers."

'Booming area'

Philip Eley, who runs a cafe in Rosemarkie on the Black Isle, said the mobile bank does not offer the same services as the branch in Fortrose.

He said: "It has got a limit on what you can actually put into the bank and they don't guarantee a change service."

Mr Eley said the first he knew of the closure was when he went into the bank and saw a notice saying it was being shut down.

He said: "There was no consultation with businesses at all.

"There are so many businesses on the Black Isle. It's a booming area."

A spokesman for Bank of Scotland said: "Our Fortrose branch will close today as a result of the changing ways our customers bank and the fact that they now visit this branch much less frequently.

"We have introduced and informed customers of our mobile branch service which visits Fortrose twice a week and allows customers to continue to access banking services, with bank colleagues still on hand to help them access online banking and answer any general account or product enquiries."

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