I’ve always believed in putting something back into the community that you work in. If the town is good enough to help provide you with a living it’s only right to put something back. Until two years ago I was a member of the community council and I’m still a trustee on the local community centre management committee. Two years ago when Royal Bank of Scotland proposed to close its last branch in the area we contacted our councillors, MSP and MP to see if there was some way of keeping the bank open. While the cause did get a lot of publicity the bank closed and to this day still sits empty. We lost one of the town’s ATMs, which was a disappointment, but I was confident that the TSB bank would step in and install one as it was opposite the old RBS bank. We were a bit disappointed when they said no, but didn’t think a lot more about it at the time. Now comes the shock news that TSB is closing lots of branches and ours is one of them. Apparently they only have 26 customers a week in our town and that’s not viable. Well if you only open three days a week and take a lunch hour then what do you expect! I’m also suspicious of only 26 customers a week but that’s very difficult to prove! So back on the campaign trail, contact our councillors, MP and MSP, gently reminding our MSPs that they are all up for re-election next May so what are they going to do about it? We shouted as loudly as possible that this is the last bank in town and small businesses don’t have the time to travel 10 miles to pay in or get change during a busy working day. And not all people over a certain age feel comfortable banking online. Well, out of the blue I got an email from Scottish Television (STV), can they come and interview me and film at the pet shop and could I find a few others who would be happy to be interviewed on the telly? Oh, help! How to make a complete twit of myself as I mutter a few incoherent words to the camera. Well, in fact, it went quite well and they not only filmed outside the pet shop but inside as well with me at the till. What was very moving was a single mother who offered to be interviewed who said that to go to the bank will now cost her £10 in bus fares and possibly she will have to take time off work to go. She was actually in tears at the loss of the last bank in town. Two weeks later I got an email at 5.30pm to say we would be on the six o’clock news. Well, apparently I have a face for radio as the only person who made it to the screen was the single mum, no free TV advert for the pet shop! Surely it is not beyond our national banks to get together and work with, say, the post office network, to allow all face-to-face banking to be conducted through the post office. If it cannot work through the post office then why not a bank in every community that accepts deposits and withdrawals from all banks, a sort of money shop. When people come into our little town they want to spend money in the shops – an ice cream, bag of chips, a cup of coffee or a toy for the dog. Not huge sums of money per purchase but with enough customers spending it keeps our economy moving. However, they need cash and therefore cash machines and banks. Also if people need to travel to the big towns to do banking, what’s stopping them doing a bit of shopping there rather than in our smaller community?