Bank closures will unfairly affect towns with poorest broadband
7th December 2017
The Highland Council expresses its deep disappointment at the news of further branch closures by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Leader of the Highland Council Margaret Davidson said: "This will cause real difficulties for many customers and small businesses.
"While acknowledging the changing nature of banking and the rapid growth of digital banking services, there are many for whom this is neither a practical option, nor one they are comfortable with. So it is vital that they have access to physical face-to-face banking services.
“The Council is therefore calling on the UK Government to ensure communities, particularly vulnerable customers and small businesses, have access to day to day banking services by establishing and enforcing a guaranteed minimum level of service provision for essential banking services, including access to free to use cash machines."
Yesterday, 5 December, the Press and Journal published a table of towns threatened by RBS bank closures showing that many of these have some of the worst broadband speeds, the majority of them being in Highland. It reveals that Aviemore, Grantown on Spey, Tain, and Mallaig are in the worst 20% of speeds, while Kyle, Tongue, and Beauly are amongst the worst 10%.
Internet speeds this low makes access to online banking and other services extremely difficult if not impossible. Without high speed and quality, it results in frustration and failure to complete specific online tasks.
Cllr Davidson continued: “The excellent article in the Press and Journal yesterday clearly illustrated the fact that many communities losing their local bank branches, have the poorest levels of broadband coverage. So to tell people they can bank on line is just not practical. Nor is it practical for businesses to travel for miles on a daily basis to bank their cash and access change.
“I intend to raise this matter at the next Highland Council meeting."
With Storm Caroline hitting the Highlands yesterday, today's heavy snowfall and the forecast for a drop in temperatures over the next 48 hours, the Highland Council's crews and winter vehicles have been busy in action. The fleet includes 105 gritters, 42 footpath tractors and over the coming months 200 plus staff will be providing winter maintenance services.
Wick Campus, including Wick High School, Newtonpark Primary School and High Life Highland Leisure facilities will remain closed on Friday 8 December 2017. The closure is due to high winds during Storm Caroline today which caused some damage to part of the roof of the Wick campus gym, causing the metal flashing around a roof light to become detached.
Following the high winds forecast and experienced this week due to Storm Caroline, The Highland Council is encouraging landowners to check trees and vegetation near to public roads which may have been damaged. Roads affected by fallen trees this morning were near Beauly; Achnagarron near Invergordon and Lochaber which staff are clearing.
The high winds during Storm Caroline today have caused some damage to part of the roof of the Wick campus gym, causing the metal flashing around a roof light to become detached. The school was already closed to pupils today due to the adverse weather.
Road condition reports by The Highland Council's Community Services for the morning of Thursday 7 December 2017 are as follows: Caithness and Sutherland: Most roads are affected by snow and ice. Treatment in progress.
Highland consumers who have lost money to a scam involving payment through Western Union wire transfer between 1st January 2004 and 19th January 2017, are being encouraged by Highland Council Trading Standards to file a claim for a refund with America's Federal Trade Commission in a bid to get some or if not all of their money back. In January 2017, Western Union agreed to pay $586 million for turning a blind eye to scammers and other criminals who used its service to trick customers into paying for bogus prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products and other financial rewards in exchange for money upfront.
The Highland Council and Department for Work and Pensions are implementing plans to improve accessibility to their services. This joint venture will see the jobcentre staff co-locating with the Council and other services in the council's new modern office developments in both Fort William and Wick.
City-region deal investment means that Inverness can now be branded a digital city. Ness WiFi, a free WiFi service, which was successfully piloted earlier this year, has now been rolled out across Inverness city centre, extending to and including areas such as the High Street, the Castle, Eden Court, and the bus and railway stations.
Leisure and cultural venues currently run by council arm's-length bodies will continue to benefit from charity relief from non-domestic rates. Following lengthy consultation with stakeholders, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay today confirmed that the Scottish Government will not be accepting the recommendation of the Barclay Review to end this benefit.
The priorities by which The Highland Council will grit roads in Caithness this winter have been approved. At the Caithness Committee meeting (Tuesday 21 November 2017) members approved a winter maintenance plan for the area which includes priority road lists and maps showing the priority gritting routes.
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