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The future of the Post Office branch in Kinlochleven will be in jeopardy if plans to remove the village’s only external, free-to-use ATM cash dispenser from the branch at the end of October go ahead.
So said Andrew Baxter this week, who, as well as serving as an elected Highland Council member for Fort William and Ardnamurchan, is also subpostmaster in Kinlochleven.
Mr Baxter said he had just received official notice that Post Office Ltd/Bank of Ireland intend removing the machine in October.
He told us there has been widespread dismay at the prospect of losing the only external free to use ATM between Tyndrum and Ballachulish.
And he warned: ‘This will leave a large tourist village without 24-hour access to cash withdrawals. The next free-to-use machine is in Ballachulish. It will have a massive impact on the village and particularly those visitors on the West Highland Way.
‘Although many can withdraw cash from across the counter in the Post Office this is only during opening hours. And those with foreign bank accounts will be unable to do so.
‘Many of the B&Bs in the village have no facilities to pay by card. It also jeopardises the very future of the Post Office as hosting and operating the ATM accounts for between 18 and 20 per cent of Post Office income.’
Kinlochleven Community Council chairwoman Yvonne Rosie said local people were ‘appalled’ and told us: ‘Leaving a community essentially cut off from access to cash – how can this be fair?
‘What will the community do for readily available money when the Post Office is closed, especially at the weekend?
‘The cashback facility at the Co-op will be inundated and perhaps unable to cope and what happens to those foreign visitors without UK bank accounts who won’t be able to access the Post Office?
‘We have been cut adrift and it is shocking that we now have less than we had during the 20th century.’
Local MSP Kate Forbes added: ‘It would be absurd if the people of Kinlochleven had to drive miles further to get cash out of hours,’ she said. ‘The Post Office has got to listen and stop these plans.’
A Post Office spokesperson said: ‘The licence for the ATM at Kinlochleven has expired and our ATM provider, Bank of Ireland, has advised us that the ATM will be removed at a date to be agreed between the bank and Post Office.
‘Through our agreement with UK banks, 99 per cent of all the UK’s consumer banking customers can access everyday banking services, including withdrawing cash, at any of our 11,500 Post Office branches.’