SCOTLAND is becoming quite the tech hub. In fact, it is becoming so much the tech hub that banking giant Lloyds has decided to follow in rival Barclays’ footsteps by creating a Scottish tech hub all of its own from which it will offer tech-based solutions to its UK-wide customer base.

It is good news. Just like Barclays vowed last year to create up to 2,500 jobs to fill a vast under-construction Glasgow office complex, Lloyds is creating 500 roles at a new digital tech centre in Edinburgh, with recruitment for software engineers and data scientists already under way. Once on board, those employees will develop new technology for Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Scottish Widows customers as part of £3 billion worth of investment designed to help Lloyds businesses keep pace in the swiftly changing banking sector.

With the traditional high street banks battling for market share against tech-focused new entrants such as Monzo and Atom Bank, who can blame them for throwing some of their still-vast resources into achieving that task? And anything that promises to create up to 3,000 jobs in the Central Belt - a significant proportion of which have been promised to those with disabilities as well as the long-term unemployed - has got to be welcomed.

Yet the other side to this particular good news story is that it has come in response to something that has seen communities right across the country being decimated, with the digitisation of everything from the way we buy our groceries and rent films to the way we communicate with friends and pay our bills having a devastating impact on our town centres and the communities they support.

It is no secret that bank branches have been closing down at a frightening rate in recent years, with the growing demand for online services not only leading the likes of Barclays and Lloyds to invest in our biggest cities but to disinvest in our towns and villages too. A total of more than 400 bank branches have been lost across Scotland since 2015, with a steady stream of announcements from every major banking group suggesting the tide is unlikely to turn any time soon.

While that is clearly bad news for the significant proportion of customers who are not comfortable conducting their affairs in a virtual world, it is not just banks that are turning their backs on our towns, with once-bustling communities across the country being silenced by the gradual demise of shops, libraries, restaurants and pubs. It is a trend that look set to continue.

According to the Scottish Licensed Trade Association hundreds of pubs across Scotland could be forced to close in the coming months, with its managing director Colin Armstrong warning last week that a significant number of landlords are on course to miss a crucial licensing deadline. While laws that came into force in 2009 require landlords to renew their personal licence every 10 years, so far only a third have submitted an application ahead of the looming deadline. Without the licence they will not be authorised to sell booze, something that could see many establishments shut their doors by the end of August.

The National Federation of SubPostmasters, meanwhile, has this week warned that thousands of sub-post offices could close in the next two years, leading to “a catastrophic loss to communities across the UK”. The organisation blames plummeting revenues and the impending loss of government subsidies for the situation, warning that “a tipping point has been passed and the consequences of this are now being realised”.

Whatever the causes, the end point remains the same, though, with local communities facing obliteration unless something can be done to reimagine their environment. We all know our towns have had it rough but the time for pining for the past is over - we need to start planning for the future and that means coming up with ways to reuse the premises banks and retailers have left behind, to help local people breathe life back into their town centres.

They cannot do it on their own. Whether it’s through reimagining the way business rates are calculated and collected, updating planning laws for the internet age, or ensuring its much-lauded City Region Deals reach the regions as well as the cities they surround, the Scottish Government has the power to help; it has already proved itself happy to do so when it is the future of our cities that is at stake.

Indeed, it should come as no surprise that large organisations have received significant amounts of public money to help fund their metropolitan job-creation plans, with development agency Scottish Enterprise handing Barclays close to £13 million towards its Glasgow base. There is nothing wrong with that, particularly as the money is designed to ensure Barclays takes an egalitarian approach to its recruitment process. But if large-scale investment is good enough for our cities, it should be good enough for our towns too: the former may hold the key to our futures, but that doesn’t mean the latter have to be consigned to the past.