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POLITICS: More north-east bank closures and the WASPI fight continues

By Gillian Martin

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This month another bank announced a closure to one of its branches in the north-east meaning a second closure in my constituency.

The Royal Bank of Scotland announced it would shut its business in New Deer later this year. Only last month, the Bank of Scotland said it would shut its branch in Ellon too. While it is undeniable that many people use their phones, tablets or computers to banking more frequently these days, there are still many people for whom in person banking is essential. Particularly for older people, who may not have access to online banking, and who might feel safer being able to go and speak to staff in person. Many groups where someone is a treasurer will need to deposit money at the bank and not to mention local businesses.

For many people living in a rural constituency such as Aberdeenshire East, access in person to alternative banking will require travelling which may not be possible for them to do. These bank closures will also impact the staff that work there who will now face an uncertain time looking for new roles. I am disappointed by both of these decisions and will be looking to what options are being offered as an alternative to people who benefit from in-person banking.

Campaigners met with the First Minister at Holyrood
Campaigners met with the First Minister at Holyrood

As the Scottish Parliament returned from recess last week, I was honoured to attend an event organised by my colleague and friend Clare Haughey to highlight the fight of WASPI women across Scotland. I had a chance to meet up a number of women who had travelled from the north-east including the Co-chair of WASPI Scotland Linda Carmichael, Pat Whyte, Christine Houston and Helen McPherson. A report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) last month recommended compensation should be paid to WASPI women who they said had not been informed adequately of the changes. However, women have faced another setback in the last few days with a delay to when the State Pension Age (Compensation) Bill will be heard at Westminster with it being delayed now until May.

It was an honour to meet some of the women who have made sure the voices of WASPI women in the north-east are heard. It was also great to have First Minister Humza Yousaf along to the event where he reminded us all that the WASPI women’s fight is not only for women of their generation but for all the generations that come ahead of them too.

I welcomed several constituents to Holyrood on a visit.
I welcomed several constituents to Holyrood on a visit.

And finally, I would like to say a big thank you to Doug, Jim, Jim and Bryan, constituents of mine who came in to visit the Scottish Parliament. It is always a joy to have people into Holyrood. Doug, Jim, Jim and Bryan were able to attend First Minister’s Questions before a quick tour of the Garden Lobby. If you’d like to attend First Minister’s Questions, you can get in touch with my office to attend.

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