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Stone calls for 'joined up thinking ' to deal with bank problems in Highlands

By Gordon Calder

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THE banks, UK government and the post office need to work together to solve the banking problems in the Highlands, according to far north MP, Jamie Stone.

After a meeting with officials at the Lloyds Banking Group, the Liberal Democrat MP for Caithness, Sutherland and easter Ross, said: "It was good to meet with Lloyds and I am pleased to hear they are open to working with the Post Office to ensure all communities have access to banking facilities.

"But while Lloyds are making all the right noises we need action, not more talk. The banks are putting the onus back on the Government and the Post Office but need to recognise the vital role they could play in such a scheme.

"Passing the buck will not solve the problem and joined up thinking is the only way forward."

Jamie Stone met with Lloyds bank officials.
Jamie Stone met with Lloyds bank officials.

Lloyds Banking Group, which includes the Bank of Scotland, is involved in a pilot scheme for shared business banking hubs in England and Mr Stone would like to see that extended to the Highlands.

Mr Stone pointed out that he has written to the UK minister responsible for banking, John Glen and the Post Office requesting a joint meeting with all stakeholders present.

"Only through co-operation can we begin to address the banking crisis the Highlands is facing," he added.

As previously reported, Mr Stone is urging banks to pool resources and open one-stop business banking hubs in the Highlands following a series of branch closures, including RBS in Wick.

He wants the Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale, Royal Bank of Scotland and TSB to invest in combined community banking facilities to address the problems facing the area.

"Pilots are in place down south and they are now acutely needed in the Highlands so banks must put these in place where we now desperately need them.

"If banks were to work together they could provide a joint branch in every community over a certain size, giving customers face-to-face advice and the ability to accept cash and cheques, regardless of which bank you are actually with. And that is what I’m asking the banks to do," added Mr Stone.

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