Bank shuts during book festival

Wigtown's only bank will close during the book festival
Wigtown's only bank will close during the book festival

Wigtown and District Community Council have requested that Bank of Scotland delays closing its Wigtown branch until after the book festival, traditionally the busiest week of the year.

The community council’s strongly-worded letter said the members were ”shocked” when the news broke last week that the only bank left in Scotland’s National Booktown was shutting on September 27, in the middle of its biggest event, and it now wants the bank to reconsider.

In the letter, Convenor Matt Kitson stated: “Wigtown is Scotland’s National Book Town and yet when the thousands of visitors arrive each year, there will no longer be a visible bank presence in the town. Your timing for the closure of the Wigtown Branch coincides with this year’s Wigtown Book Festival, to be held from September 23 to October 6. The Book Festival is a ten-day Festival that is now one of the UK’s best-loved literary events.

“We would therefore ask that you reconsider the Branch closure date until after the Book Festival. If, for some obscure reason, this would not be possible, we would ask that you ensure that the Branch’s ATM will be fully functioning and stocked during the Festival period. Your staff will be able to confirm that, in previous years, cash demands have proven greater than the capacity of the town’s two ATMs.

“A number of local business and personal customers have chosen to bank with you because you were the only bank presence in Wigtown. Forced to now rely on the Post Office or bank online, I wonder how many customers you may lose as a result of this decision?”

The impending closure and the Bank of Scotland’s suggested alternative banking facilities, the Post Office and a mobile bank, were discussed at the monthly meeting of the community council on Monday evening in the County Buildings. Sandra McDowall noted that since the refurbishment of the post office there could be issues over privacy for customers there. She also questioned how the shops in the town would cope without a bank to go to for change. Joe McKeown added that this move at least reinforced the need for a post office presence to remain in Wigtown.

The Galloway Gazette has also written to ask the Bank of Scotland to keep the Wigtown branch open until after the book festival.