TWEEDDALE MP David Mundell says the Bank of Scotland is “hell-bent” on closing a Peeblesshire branch after holding a meeting with its executives.

Last week Lloyds Banking Group announced that 60 sites across the UK will shut for good due to the rise in popularity of online banking.

The decision to close the Innerleithen High Street branch was slammed by Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale representative Mr Mundell, who labelled the move “cynical”.

And the Conservative MP has since held a “frank and robust” meeting with Bank of Scotland officials Neil Moore and Samantha McGrath, who confirmed that the closure would go ahead whatever the feedback from the local community.

Mr Mundell said that they also refused to hold a public meeting in the town to discuss the reasons for the decision with local people.

On the meeting, Tweeddale’s MP said: “I was very disappointed but sadly not surprised about how the meeting went.

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“Bank of Scotland seem hell-bent on closing the Innerleithen branch and are not willing to discuss changing that decision, or even justify it publicly to Innerleithen customers.

“In my opinion, the decision also smacks of a cynical attempt to get round new legislation the UK Government is bringing forward shortly to protect people’s access to banking services when the last bank in a community closes. The big banks say they want to meet the needs of people in small towns and rural areas but all they do is close branches and tell people to do things online.

“What concerned me most about my discussion with Bank of Scotland is that they have no long-term plan for working to keep other local branches open.

“We need a sensible geographic spread of bank branches or banking hubs, where local branches are closed, to ensure everybody can access face-to-face banking services if they need to.

“Despite warm words about this type of approach previously, Bank of Scotland and Lloyds, their owner, seem to place no weight on this at all in practice.”

Announcing the closure last week, Vim Maru, group retail director at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Just like many other high street businesses, fewer customers are choosing to visit our branches. Our branch network is an important way for us to support our customers, but we need to adapt to the significant growth in customers choosing to do most of their everyday banking online.”

Elsewhere in the Borders, the Bank of Scotland branch in Selkirk will also close.