Santander axes Edinburgh and Lothian branches


Santander Branch on Leith Walk set to close on 9th May. (Picture Credit: Graham Millar)

1270 jobs are being put at risk by the Spanish-owned bank Santander as they begin cutting 140 UK branches. 

Amongst the closures are three in Edinburgh and Lothians. Branches at Leith Walk and  Morningside Road in Edinburgh and George Street in Bathgate are all set to shut their doors permanently.

The banking giant has pointed to “the way customers are choosing to carry out their banking” as the reason for the downsizing of their banking network.

They claim: “The number of transactions carried out via Santander branches has fallen by 23% over the past three years, while transactions via digital channels have grown by 99% over the same period.”

Susan Allen, Head of Retail and Business Banking, said:

“The way our customers are choosing to bank with us has changed dramatically in recent years, with more and more customers using online and mobile channels. 

“We will support customers of closing branches to find alternative ways to bank with us that best suit their individual needs. We are also working alongside our unions to support colleagues through these changes 

“We expect the size of our network to remain stable for the foreseeable future.”


The closures will begin on April 25 this year and will continue until all 140 closures are complete with the last sites to be shut on December 29, 2019.

George Street, Bathgate will be amongst the first branches to close on April 25, followed by Leith Walk on May 9, and finally Morningside Road on December 12.

Banks all over Britain have been systematically closing down branches over recent years and this is because of many reasons, one of which Santander claims is that the vast majority of their customers are now using online banking and have little or no need to go into their local bank.

However, there are other reasons, such as financial pressure from the recession.  A house of Commons report from 2018 states that between the years of 2007 (the year the recession started) and 2017, there was a staggering 37% drop in the number of bank branches.

In addition, running a bank branch is expensive, between paying for the building and the staff, banks spend millions running these locations.

Find out if your branch is closing with the Which? Bank Branch Closure Checker

Santander 2

Notice in Santander Branch on Leith Walk. (Picture credit: Graham Millar)

Gareth Shaw, Head of Which? Money, said:

“These closures will come as a blow for all those who rely on access to traditional banking services across the UK, at a time when branches are disappearing at a rate of more than 60 a month.

“While online banking is on the rise, a third of the country still does not use it and, as we’ve seen from a recent spate of IT failures, such systems are not infallible.”


The closure of banks will hit some members of the public, such as old people isolated from electronic banking, more than others.

Karen Irvine, a Bathgate resident and Santander customer said:

“I tend to use the Livingston branch more anyway because I shop there more and it’s easier for parking and more convenient.

“I also don’t like using cash lines outside so would rather use Livingston’s inside.

“But I disagree that people will use online instead because I don’t think it’s safe. I do use my iPad at home to check accounts and to transfer from my own account — one to another, but I don’t use it for anything else.”

Jobs at Risk

Santander say they have consulted their trade unions on the changes and will “seek to find alternative roles for the 1270 colleague affects wherever possible.”

They expect to be able to keep on a third of those employees.

Future Branch Changes

Santander plan to spend £5 million over the next two years to refurbish 100 branches.

They say the future branch network “will be made up of a combination of larger branches offering improved community facilities to support local businesses and customers and smaller branches using the latest technology to offer customers more convenient access to banking services.

“The refurbishments will include a range of changes with a focus on personal service, convenience and community engagement.”


Santander states that all current and business account holders can carry out their banking at any Post Office branch across the UK, of which there are over 11,000 locations.

Samantha Wrench, Media Realtions Manager for Santander explains that the branches closed are ones with alternative locations in close proximity, she says:

“For instance, the nearest local branch from Morningside Road 0.1 miles away — it’s actually on the same road, while the nearest local branch to Leith Walk is 1.7 miles away on Hanover Street.”

The local branch in relation to Morningside Road Ms. Wrench references is a Post Office.

According to, you can access basic banking services from your Post Office; such as depositing cheques, withdrawing cash and checking your bank balance, but there are things that you are unable to do unless you are at a bank branch location and these are:

  • Opening new products
  • Setting up standing orders
  • Reporting a lost or stolen card
  • Getting personalised advice

More information on using your Post Office.





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