A VOICE FROM WESTMINSTER
TSB has delivered a blow to communities across Scotland with the recent announcement that they’re closing 73 branches across the country. This includes their branch in Buckhaven, which is the last bank in town. In an email sent to me by TSB, they have tried to suggest that this branch has only nineteen regular customers, along with trying to tell me that Leven and Buckhaven branches are only 1.6 miles apart when the shortest walking route is 2.1 miles, over 30% further. I find it astounding that TSB don’t seem to know where their next nearest branch is, making it clear that their "impact assessment" seems to have been done at a desk by people who know very little about the area. I have written to TSB’s Scottish Manager asking him for a meeting to challenge this decision.
We all know that having facilities such as physical bank branches in our communities is so important to inspire community spirit, but also to generate economic activity. Which leads to jobs and more people spending money in their local communities. So, when companies decide to close facilities in towns and villages, across the country, it impacts us all. But, most importantly, it impacts people on lower incomes who rely on services closer to home.
Instead of focusing solely on the profit the top people can make, companies should make sure that they root themselves into communities and are aware of local reports such as the Fife Child Poverty Report that was released last week. The figures in this harrowing report should shock us all, and the sobering point outlined in this report is that one in five children in Fife live in poverty. And what is even more concerning to me is that in the Buckhaven, Methil and Wemyss and Glenrothes West and Kinglassie wards, both in this constituency, have a higher level of child poverty than the Fife average. Low wages, exploitative employment practices, a broken benefits system and miserly state pension are helping to create levels of poverty that shouldn’t be tolerated in one of the wealthiest nations on earth.
Finally, I am aware that people are still experiencing serious problems when trying to book an appointment to receive their flu jab. I have written to Tricia Marwick, Chair of Fife NHS Board expressing my concern and unhappiness, on behalf of my constituents, with the system that the health board has put in place this year. NHS Fife has, of course, assured everyone that there will be enough appointments and vaccines for everyone who is entitled to one, but the health board needs to learn from this year’s errors if they intend to change the system going forward.