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10 customers in 3 minutes at Wick’s doomed Bank of Scotland despite report of ‘low footfall’


By David G Scott

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Despite its impending closure next year, around 10 people were observed utilising Wick’s Bank of Scotland in just three minutes this morning (July 1).

On Thursday afternoon (June 27), it was announced that Bank of Scotland (BoS) will close its doors for good at the Bridge Street premises on June 25, 2025 and that a proposed “banking hub” would be set up to help assuage local fears over the town’s last brick-and-mortar bank closing.

Bank of Scotland on Wick's Bridge Street will close in June next year. Picture: DGS
Bank of Scotland on Wick's Bridge Street will close in June next year. Picture: DGS

“Our community banker will be there one day a week and you can come in to talk to us. They can support you with banking online and can also provide help with making payments and other account enquiries,” said a BoS spokesperson on the day of the announcement last week.

Figures shared in the document clearly show that the number of customers using the Wick branch has dropped by around 30 per cent since 2019 though ATM transactions have gone up slightly.

It says that there is an average of 497 customers using the branch per month and over 50 per cent of customers using the branch are aged over 55.

Over a five-minute period on Monday (July 1), numerous people were seen to be using the bank which is earmarked for closure. Picture: DGS
Over a five-minute period on Monday (July 1), numerous people were seen to be using the bank which is earmarked for closure. Picture: DGS
A steady stream of individuals were observed entering the bank today (Monday, July 1). Picture: DGS
A steady stream of individuals were observed entering the bank today (Monday, July 1). Picture: DGS
Another customer was seen using the ATM machine at the front of the Bank of Scotland over the same five-minute period. Picture: DGS
Another customer was seen using the ATM machine at the front of the Bank of Scotland over the same five-minute period. Picture: DGS

Over just a few brief minutes at 10am today, around 10 people were seen entering or exiting the bank, speaking to customer advisors within the BoS and using the ATM machine on the street. The majority of these people appeared to be senior citizens.

Wick’s provost and local Highland councillor, Jan McEwan said she was “absolutely disgusted” over the BoS announcement. “When I arrived up here 30 years ago, we had four banks, a building society and two post offices and now we’re down to the last bank standing,” she added.

“When the Royal closed, people moved their business to either the Bank of Scotland or Virgin or the TSB. Then the TSB closed and people moved their banks again.

“Then Virgin closed after a year and the people of the community moved their banks to Bank of Scotland. They’re devastated to hear that it’s closing and the nearest bank is 20 miles away.”

Wick's provost and councillor for the area, Jan McEwan, is disgusted by the news. Picture: DGS
Wick's provost and councillor for the area, Jan McEwan, is disgusted by the news. Picture: DGS

The provost said she is not impressed by the practicalities of a banking hub replacement and wants BoS to have a rethink of its decision. “When I go in there, the footfall is really busy.

“I’ve been in three times in the last fortnight and had to wait in a queue. I’ve been a Bank of Scotland customer since I was 15 and I’m absolutely disgusted.”

She also said that mobile banks are not a great option due to the poor climate and how this is especially an issue for the elderly.

'No pot of gold at the end of the rainbow'. The councillors did not think that mobile banks, like this RBS facility at Wick, were the answer. Picture: DGS
'No pot of gold at the end of the rainbow'. The councillors did not think that mobile banks, like this RBS facility at Wick, were the answer. Picture: DGS

Wick and East Caithness councillor Raymond Bremner said: “The fact is, there are a number of people in the rural areas that rely on banking facilities to be available physically, where they can go in and speak face-to-face.”

He went on to talk about the importance of this face-to-face option for older people who may not have the facilities or understanding to undertake online banking.

“Though a hub can be here once a week, many of the services required from a bank are needed on a daily basis. When you’re trying to support businesses in the area, they will have additional expenses and may have to travel some distance to access physical banking facilities.”

Highland Council leader and Wick and east Caithness councillor Raymond Bremner said that many customers want to conduct their business face-to-face in a bank. Picture: DGS
Highland Council leader and Wick and east Caithness councillor Raymond Bremner said that many customers want to conduct their business face-to-face in a bank. Picture: DGS

The nearest high street banking outlets, once Wick’s last one closes, are situated 20 miles away in Thurso with Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Santander. There is a mobile RBS bank that visits Wick and the surrounding area but this can be cancelled with little notice and customers are often forced to queue up in inclement weather.

Willie Mackay, a fellow Highland councillor for the area, said he has been using BoS in Wick for 55 years for business purposes. “The one thing that annoys me is the power of the banks and when they make up their mind that they’re going to go they’ll go and that’s all there is to it,” said Mr Mackay.

Wick and east Caithness councillor Willie Mackay criticised the power of the banks to make unpopular decisions. Picture: DGS
Wick and east Caithness councillor Willie Mackay criticised the power of the banks to make unpopular decisions. Picture: DGS

He went on to criticise the proposed banking hub as a “satellite” option with various limits on customers that would otherwise be available in a traditional high street branch. “You won’t be able to conduct all your business there and you’ll have to go to Inverness. It’s a great big disappointment to me. We’ve tried to save these banks and written letters to directors and it falls on deaf ears every time.”

Royal Bank of Scotland was the first casualty of the Wick bank closure trend in 2018 and was soon followed by TSB, Clydesdale Bank and then the short-lived Virgin Money in 2022.

In a branch review released on Thursday, BoS states that before it closes any branch it looks at how its “customers are managing their money and using the branch”. LINK, the UK’s cash access and ATM network, announced that locals and businesses in Wick will soon “find it easier” to access banking services with the proposed hub facility.


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