Double closure blow for centre of Lanark

Announcing the axe will fall on Lanarks Santander branch, bank executive Susan Allen
Announcing the axe will fall on Lanarks Santander branch, bank executive Susan Allen

Already beleagured Lanark town centre traders have been told that the High Street is to be closed for ten days for resurfacing from March 1.

However, they have been assured that the works, the first for 14 years, are essential and will ultimately benefit the Royal Burgh.

There are no silver linings, however, to the further news that Lanark is to lose another bank, Santander’s branch on the High Street to close on July 4. The town has already lost its Clydesdale Bank branch and the Royal Bank of Scotland has pulled out of every town and village in Clydesdale except Lanark and Biggar.

Announcing the axeing of the Santander Lanark branch - and another 14 around Scotland - Susan Allen, the bank’s head of retail and business banking, 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.”

The announcement led to a flurry of angry statements from local politcians.

Clydesdale’s SNP MSP Aileen Campbell called on Santander to think again about the closure. She said: “This will be a difficult announcement for a number of customers in the area, and particularly for the staff involved. It is unacceptable for branches to suddenly withdraw from communities.Of course we know that customer habits are changing, but I am fed up with banks only engaging with the community or myself at the point they decide to wield the axe.”

Her regional Labour counterpart Claudia Beamish MSP said: “This is totally unacceptable. If this branch closes the next available location for Santander customers to do face to face banking will be Wishaw.”

She said that she was seeking an urgent meeting with Santander, as is Ms Campbell.

Lanark and Hamilton East’s SNP MP Angela Crawley commented: “This is deeply concerning news which will come as a shock to many of my constituents who rely on Santander’s Lanark branch. People and businesses depend on the face-to-face service they get in these branches, especially those who are elderly, vulnerable, or live in rural areas.”

Meanwhile, the planned resurfacing of Lanark High Street and the disruption it is certain to cause is due to be a major topic of discussion at this week’s meeting of the Royal Burgh of Lanark Community Council.