LABOUR MP Ged Killen was in North Ayrshire speaking to party members about his work in Parliament to safeguard free-to-use ATM machines.

The move has followed in the aftermath of announcement by LINK, the network responsible for 82 per cent of all cash machine withdrawals, of a reduction of fees from 25p to 20p per withdrawal.

There are concerns that these proposals have been driven by pressure from banks to reduce costs and don’t reflect the needs of customers or communities.

The ATM Industry Association has suggested that at least 10,000 free-to-use cashpoints could be at risk. This comes at a time while bank branch closures are also impacting on communities access to cash across the country.

The Federation of Small Businesses has shown Scotland has the fastest rate of bank closures in the UK with a rate of two per week over the past four years. This has resulted in there being approximately 200 bank branch and ATM “Cash Deserts” across the UK with two-thirds of them in Scotland.

Ged Killen MP who was in Kilbirnie, which has the highest bankruptcy rate in Scotland, has been campaigning on the issue and calling for greater financial inclusion since being elected in 2017, stated: “The economies of towns like those across North Ayrshire depend on access to cash and banking facilities. The towns of Saltcoats, Kilwinning and Kilbirnie have all seen bank branch closures affect them in the past few months and alongside that ATM machines have gone.

“But this has been an ongoing situation across the area as many now have no access to banking facilities, something that is sadly reflected across Scotland. This announcement by LINK will have a further negative impact on those within the community unable to use digital banking as well as local businesses. The Scottish Retail Consortium’s figures show that more than one in 10 of Scotland’s high street shops lie empty, the worst rate in the UK, a figure which has been increasing in recent months and is worse in many areas. "

“At a time when we are trying to protect our high streets and support small and local business, there has to be access to banking and cash facilities. The Scottish and UK governments need to show some leadership in this area rather than merely express their inability to deal with the problem”

Cunninghame North Labour Secretary Scott Wilson said: “Ged has personally taken up this important cause and is demonstrating that Labour always fight for our communities. “Access to cash and banking facilities is now extremely difficult across North Ayrshire and this is having an adverse effect on our communities particularly the elderly and disabled as well as local businesses. There has been an abdication of responsibilities towards people to focus on profit – treating our communities with total disregard. We will continue to campaign for access to cash and banking facilities as well as pushing for the credit union movement and community banks to address financial inclusion in North Ayrshire.”