Borders banks spared from axe as Santander shuts 140 branches

Santander's branch, on the left, in Hawick High Street.
Santander's branch, on the left, in Hawick High Street.

Santander has become the latest bank to announce a cull of branches in Scotland, revealing plans to shut 15 by the end of the year, but the two it operates in the Borders have been spared the axe.

The Spanish-based company today, January 23, sounded the death knell for 140 branches across the UK, potentially putting more than 1,200 staff out of work, but its branches in Channel Street in Galashiels and Hawick High Street won’t be affected.

They are among 614 branches across the UK to survive this year’s cull.

The 15 Scottish branches being closed between April and December are in Aberdeen, Alloa, Bathgate, Brechin, Edinburgh, Forfar, Glasgow, Helensburgh, Kirkcaldy, Lanark, Renfrew, St Andrews and Troon.

The firm says the impending closures are a response to a switch to online banking by its customers.

The number of transactions carried out at its branches has fallen by almost a quarter over the past three years and online transactions have doubled over that timeframe, it says.

Susan Allen, its head of retail and business banking for the UK, said: “The way our customers are choosing to bank with us has changed dramatically in recent years, with more and more customers using online and mobile channels.

“As a result, we have had to take some very difficult decisions over our less-visited branches and those where we have other branches in close proximity.

“We will support customers of closing branches to find alternative ways to bank with us that best suit their individual needs.

“We are also working alongside our unions to support colleagues through these changes and to find alternative roles for those impacted on wherever possible.”

Today’s news comes after the Royal Bank of Scotland closed its Hawick, Eyemouth, Selkirk, Jedburgh and Duns branches last year – preceded by Chirnside, Greenlaw and Newtown’s in 2014 – with Melrose’s following suit this month.

It also follows the Bank of Scotland’s closure of its branches in Coldstream, Lauder, West Linton and Newtown in 2017.

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont has welcomed the news that the Borders has been spared the axe this time round but is warning customers of Santander’s Hawick and Galashiels branches not to take them for granted.

“Residents and businesses in Hawick and Galashiels can breathe a sigh of relief that they are not going to be losing another bank branch in this latest round of closures,” he said.

“However, this is a timely reminder to everyone in the Borders of the importance of using your local branch so that the banks are not given an excuse to close them.

“I also hope that the backlash RBS faced, although it did not change their minds, might make other banks think twice about closing branches in this area.

“The loss of the banks in any high street is a big blow, particularly in rural towns like those in the Borders.

“Many businesses, local groups and vulnerable people rely on local banking services.

“That is why we must all do our bit to help keep these local branches open in the future.”