Cash-less zones fears for the future

16 March 2018


A weekend cash shortage in a bustling Ross-shire town has strengthened my fears that some towns and villages could become ‘cash-less’ zones exacerbated by continuing bank and ATM closures.

I was contacted by a constituent who highlighted that Tain’s RBS and Bank of Scotland ATMs were out of action on Saturday March 10th while also claiming the local Post Office found itself also out of cash.

The MSP this week contacted the banks and the PO to ask them what had happened and the RBS and Bank of Scotland responded by this morning. Today, a spokesman for the Post Office said they didn't run out of cash but did find an increase in customers due to the ATMs being out of action.

The situation sent alarm bells ringing for the future of towns such as Tain which heavily rely on local and passing trade, especially with the popularity of the NC500. Also, with the proposed closure of the RBS’s Tain branch.

There was a definite cash shortage in Tain and this would have had a knock-on effect on shoppers and visitors over the weekend.

I understand that breakdowns do happened, but we’ve not yet arrived at a cashless society and the ability to access money is extremely important for the economy of the region, especially as we approach Easter and then peak tourist season.

People deserve a better service and let’s not forget that with branch closures at villages like Dornoch customers are being redirected to Tain, creating more local demand.

The RBS responded saying the ATM was out of service on Thursday 8th March, caused by a technical fault, but was repaired on Saturday 10th March.

“I’m sorry for any inconvenience that this fault caused to your constituents in the area but want to reassure you that the machine is now working and was not related to a lack of cash in the machine,” said an RBS spokesperson.

A Bank of Scotland spokesperson also said that it also found a fault in its ATM at Tain late on Friday last week which required an engineer visit to replace some parts. As the branch was closed on Saturday and Sunday, the engineer attended on Monday to replace the dispenser unit.

“We do regret any inconvenience this caused customers in the local area,” said the Bank of Scotland spokesperson.

“For non-engineering faults, such as note jams or card jams, we do have out-of-hours support for this branch, which means our suppliers can gain access outside of branch opening hours. On this occasion, the fault was too severe for a fix without specific tools/parts.”

“We will continue to monitor our ATM in Tain to ensure there is no recurrence of this problem and I would like to thank you for taking the time to bring this matter to our attention.”

* While RBS have given a short reprieve for a small number of branches, Scottish Labour will continue to campaign for the retention of all the under-threat branches.

I am also awaiting a reply from the Equality and Human Rights Commission to see if RBS’s laissez-faire attitude to disabled access complies with legislation.