Concerns voiced that fee cut could lead to Borders cashpoints facing axe

Borders MP John Lamont at Chirnside's cashpoint.
Borders MP John Lamont at Chirnside's cashpoint.

Some towns and villages in the Borders face the prospect of losing their only cashpoints due to a cut to the fee paid to their operators, fears Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont.

Link, the UK’s largest cash machine network, plans to cut its interchange fee by 20% over the next five years, from 25p to 20p per transaction.

That money funds the free-to-use automated teller machine network, and organisations including Which? and the Federation of Small Businesses are concerned that the reduction could result in thousands of cashpoints no longer deemed financially viable being removed.

Communities in the region feared to be at risk of losing their ATMs include Chirnside, Cockburnspath, Newtown, St Boswells, Earlston and Hawick’s Burnfoot estate.

Mr Lamont is calling on the Payment Systems Regulator to look into the change and the impact it might have on small businesses.

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

“This latest change is potentially devastating for some communities if the result is that they lose their only remaining cash machine.

“Access to cash is absolutely vital to local businesses in the Borders. 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.

“The regulator needs to take action to guarantee that consumers can access their money if cash machines are threatened and investigate whether it can intervene to stop the removal of free ATMs in rural communities.

“The Federation of Small Businesses is warning that one in five cash machines in rural areas could be set to close as a result of the reduction in the transaction fee, which is very concerning.”