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Clydesdale Bank to close 16 Scottish branches

Clydesdale Bank is to close 16 "unsustainable" branches under plans to reshape their retail banking operations.

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks will close 28 UK branches and invest £45 million in customer improvements under the plans.

Six "flagship" branches will be developed as well as improved mobile and internet banking services under a programme to "replace, renew, relocate and reinvest" across the retail branch network.

The Scottish branches that will close are Aberdeen Bridge of Don, Aberdeen Bucksburn, Aberdeen Woodside, Alford, Auchterarder, Blairgowrie, Bothwell, Bridge of Allan, Cupar, Edinburgh West End, Glasgow Govanhill, Haddington, Kinross, Kirkcaldy, Newport on Tay and Whitburn.

Clydesdale and Yorkshire, part of National Australia Bank, said it will save £5 million by the branch closures, adding that frontline jobs will be safeguarded.

New posts are being created at the banks' busiest branches, while support will be given to displaced branch managers.

David Thorburn, chief executive of Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank, said: "There's a lot of positive change being driven forward for our customers and there needs to be more as we build a better bank. Here we are making a significant investment to meet the changing needs of customers now and in the future.

"But to deliver what are fundamentally necessary changes, we have to face in to difficult decisions. No branch closure is welcomed by customers or staff, I understand that, which is why we are working to minimise the effects these changes have on them.

"Our resources must now be focused on where they can deliver the best results for customers, moving with them as their demands change. A branch network remains at the core of what we do, and we are investing in it, but we must balance that against the investment we need to make in the services customers now expect and are using more - online and mobile banking services that give customers control of their finances when and where they want it most."

However, Citizens Advice Scotland says the closures are worrying.

Consumer spokesman Fraser Sutherland said: ""So many people are struggling with their finances at the moment that easy access to bank accounts is really important. For them, these closures will not just be a minor inconvenience but a real problem. Some of the distances people will now have to travel are very worrying - particularly as public transport in many of these areas is not always good and can be expensive.

"We hope that Clydesdale Bank are aware of the implications of removing high-street banking from rural communities - especially for the many residents who have no access to online services.

"It's not only consumers who lose out, as research has shown that two thirds of small rural businesses visit their local bank every week. Having to travel further will cost money and time that they can ill afford."

Unite union national officer Rob Macgregor said: "The bank is cutting costs and eroding community banking which we believe leaves customers with less choice.

"Customers are being short-changed by high street banks replacing counter staff with machines, yet, according to our own poll, nearly three-quarters of people want the human touch, not just a machine in their local bank branch.

"Unite will oppose compulsory redundancies and we expect the company to do everything possible to make redeployment an option and allow workers to move to neighbouring branches wherever possible."

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Finance

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