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.





China bridges the 26 mile gap

After nine years of construction, Chinese President Xi JinPing has unveiled the world’s longest crossing bridge, linking Hong Kong to China’s mainland. 

The bridge, which cost an estimated US$20 billion to build, is set to be a life-changing invention for Chinese citizens who want to access Hong Kong and Macau from the mainland city of Zhuhai.

Spanning over 54km (26 miles) and covering 21,500 square miles of China, the bridge assists with a larger plan to expand 11 cities in the region, with the cities of Hong Kong and Macau home to 68 million people in total.

“I declare the Hong Kong – Macau – Zhuhai bridge officially open.” – President Xi JinPing, October 23, 2018

So far, the making of the now famous bridge hasn’t been easy, with 18 workers reported to have lost their lives during the construction process.

With 400,000 tonnes of steel to assemble, the new bridge has enough steel to build 60 Eiffel Towers, which in itself, weighs an impressive 10,000 tonnes. The design is also said to withstand an earthquake magnitude of eight and is also typhoon-proof, which are known natural disasters in the region.

The Hong Kong – Macau – Zhuhai bridge is expected to drastically decrease commuting time from four hours to just 30 minutes, meaning people can easily travel to and from Hong Kong’s international airport.

Originally set to be unveiled in 2016, the longest bridge in the world is now open for business, setting the tone for China’s futuristic vision.

Thousands rally for pay equality

Glasgow is seeing its biggest equal pay strike in decades as 8,000 march on George Square.

Hundreds of schools, nurseries, and other local government organisations are striking due to a long-running dispute about equal pay for women.

GMB gen sec on far right

GMB General Secretary Tim Roache with striking workers at Glasgow City Chambers

Although Glasgow City Council has said the strike is unnecessary, GMB and Unison workers unions note a distinct lack of progress in negotiations over the pay issue.

The problem has arisen from a pay and conditions scheme introduced by Glasgow City Council in 2006. The scheme means that due to differing work conditions, workers in female-dominated industries like teaching, catering and cleaning are receiving up to £3 an hour less than workers in male-dominated industries like refuse collection.

Gary Smith, the Scottish secretary of GMB, spoke to us about the march in Glasgow:

“The Glasgow Women’s strike is the biggest ever strike over sex discrimination and equal pay. 8000 women have downed tools and brought large parts of the city to a halt. This is a magnificent display of solidarity amongst the women of Glasgow.”

Other industries which are unaffected by the pay dispute – or on the other side of it, such as refuse workers – have also been striking to support the female marchers in Glasgow.

GMB European Officer Kathleen Walker Shaw told EN4 News:

“The strike action and demonstration has met with widespread public support in Glasgow, Scotland, the UK and internationally with messages of solidarity pouring in from public service workers across the world.”

These messages included a speech from Rosa Pavanelli, the general Secretary of the 20-million-strong PSI Global union:

Councillors in Glasgow reiterate that there is no need for the strike. Council Leader Susan Aitken spoke to the BBC, stating:

“I’m not entirely sure why this strike is taking place. Negotiations have been continuing. We’ve made considerable progress in a number of areas.”

Over 12,000 claims have been made to the council to alert them of pay issues caused by the 2006 scheme. After pay increases and payouts for backdated claims, the issue could ultimately cost between £500 million and £1 billion.

International Insight

Joanna Hampson brings you the latest EN4 international news brief for Tuesday October 23.

Here are today’s top stories.

  • The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was allegedly planned days in advance. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed he has strong evidence to suggest Khashoggi was killed in a premeditated murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the 2nd of October. In his address this Tuesday, to the MP’s of his ruling party, President Erdogan confirmed that 18 people had been arrested in Saudi Arabia over the case, but is yet to release further information regarding the details of the evidence. For live updates from the investment conference in Saudi Arabia head to the Guardian.


  • The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge has finally been opened in Zhuhai, China. Chinese President Xi Jinping has officially opened the bridge, which connects Hong Kong to Macau and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai, spanning 55km (34 miles) of water. The $20 billion bridge took nine years to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns. To watch the video ‘flying over the world’s longest sea bridge’ head to the BBC.


  • Poland’s first openly gay politician has said progressive policies can win in the countries local elections. After the ruling Law and Justice party suffered setbacks in local elections at the weekend, Robert Biedroń who stepped down as mayor of Słupsk to launch his own pro-European, “pro-democratic” movement, has now said that progressives can win. Biedroń’s own political trajectory, as a young, former LGBT activist who was elected to the Sejm in 2011, strides towards a modern Poland, advancing on the common view of the Catholic country. The Guardian report on the advancements of the upcoming elections in more detail on their website.


  • Donald Trump has warned that the US will bolster its nuclear arsenal to put pressure on Russia and China. Speaking to reporters, the President repeated his belief that Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which he has threatened to leave. Russia continues to deny these allegations.

In Business


  • UK based vacuum cleaner manufacturer, Dyson, is set to build its new electric car in Singapore. The factory will break ground in Singapore later this year with the first car scheduled to roll off the production line in 2021. Dyson has said Singapore was chosen for the project based on the availability of engineering talent, regional supply chains and proximity to some key target markets. With a vast budget of £2 billion committed to the plant, Dyson will be focussing largely on research and development and test track facilities.


  • Co-founder of the Benetton clothing firm, Gilberto Benetton, has died at the age of 77. Benetton founded United Colors of Benetton in Italy, with brothers Luciano and Carlo and sister Giuliana, in the 1960s. Considered as one of the most powerful families in Italy, Benetton himself is credited with diversifying the clothing company into a multi-billion euro giant. United Colors of Benetton is known for its provocative advertising campaigns which have previously featured images of prisoners sentenced to death in America and, more recently, displayed images of migrants being rescued from the Mediterranean.

Consumer confidence in Scotland lowest in over a year

Consumer confidence levels in Scotland have dropped to the lowest it has been in over a year, and below the UK-wide average, new research indicates.

According to the latest Deloitte Consumer Tracker, Scotland’s consumer confidence results have dropped to a net balance of  -9%, which is lower than the UK average of -7%.

Scotland’s result has dropped a whole four percentage points since the last quarter. This is the lowest it has been since the second quarter of 2017.

Some local business owners in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh responded to the research, and were surprisingly optimistic about their customers, despite the recent findings.

Gavin Elden, A La Carte owner, said: “Even when times are tough, people just want to have treats, so we haven’t noticed too much of a change.

A La Carte on Bruntsfield Place. Credits to Daisy Smith

“However, there has been a huge change around here, and lots and lots of shops have changed hands.

“It is hard to tell with Brexit. I think the whole country is just uncertain at the moment about everything. It could be fantastic or it could be a disaster.”

Clementine Home and Gifts worker, Monica, said: “I would definitely think Brexit will have an effect. Everyone is talking about it and I will probably be affected because I am from Poland.

Clementine on Bruntsfield Place. Credits to Daisy Smith

“My friends are all concerned and it definitely has an impact on how people view their future here and spending as well because people are saving instead of spending just in case.”

Cat Anderson, Edinburgh Bookshop worker, said: “I was talking to the boss the other day and she is really impressed with how much people are shopping and she puts it down to Brexit.

The Edinburgh Bookshop on Bruntsfield Place. Credits to Daisy Smith

“People are just like we don’t care anymore, we are going to live regardless, we don’t know what is coming next so we might as well just enjoy ourselves.

“I have certainly seen a massive increase in food prices and have changed my shopping habits accordingly. Brexit is definitely having an impact.”

In Scotland, five out of the six measures of confidence dropped compared to the last quarter. The measure which grew in confidence was regarding job opportunities and career progression which rose by four percentage points to -4%.

The main reason for the downfall in consumer confidence was plunging levels of optimism regarding general health and wellbeing. This category dropped 18 percentage points down to -16% since the previous quarter. This was closely followed by a steep drop in levels of confidence around household disposable income which fell to -24%.

Levels of confidence fell in all six categories for the UK-wide results. The sharpest decline was in the category regarding disposable income and personal debt.

Deloitte chief economist Ian Stewart, related the downfall to Brexit and said: “The reality of higher inflation and August’s interest rate rise has dented optimism about spending power.

“Meanwhile uncertainty and the manner in which the UK exits the EU in less than six months’ time is creating an additional headwind for consumers.

He added: “That such consumer-friendly conditions have failed to boost confidence testifies to the headwinds from inflation, interest rate rises and Brexit.”

 The survey was carried out between September 21 and 29 and involved 3105 consumers across the UK, with 371 being in Scotland.


New rights for 0 hour workers in Britain

New government reforms will give greater rights to the millions of zero hour and agency workers across Britain.

The changes come as a response to last year’s Taylor Review into working practices. Business Secretary Greg Clark has said that the changes will “address very clearly” the rights of those who are in this line of work.

He told the BBC:

“We will be enforcing the rights that people have and are entitled to.

We want to embrace new ways of working, and to do so we will be one of the first countries to prepare our employment rules to reflect the new challenges.”

The government claims that the majority of the Taylor Review’s suggestions will be adopted.  However, unions have said that the changes will leave 1.8 million workers without vital rights.

As part of its changes the government will: enforce holiday and sick pay entitlements, give all workers the right to demand a payslip and allow flexible workers to demand more stable contracts.

The review focuses on the gig economy of part time and flexible workers.  There was an estimated 1.1 million people working in Britain’s gig economy in 2017.

What do gig workers do? | Image Credit: Reuters

EN4 News spoke to some 0 hour workers to get their views on the proposed changes.

Leila Wallace, an agency worker for Quality Link, said that although her experience with agency work has been positive, she appreciates the changes and how they will benefit others.

“I personally already receive these benefits.  I get a payslip every week, even if I’m not working, and recently received my holiday pay.

I think 0 hour contracts are great, obviously there are some negatives, but the job allows me to work around my university schedule and my social life.

However, I do know some more disadvantaged 0 hour contract workers who struggle to get the hours they need, so giving them more stability in their job will definitely be a positive change.”

Other workers agreed that they had positive experiences with 0 hour contracts in the past, Sophie-Ann Mair, a member of the House Team for Edinburgh University’s Student Association, said:

“Personally zero hour contracts in my experience have always been positive.

However, in my current job I do get holiday pay and they allow me flexible working hours around my studies.”

She added that it is important that all employers follow these rules, not just some:

“I know I’m in a lucky position in that my employer works around me rather than the other way around.

I think it is important people on zero hour contracts are entitled to the same rights as contract workers, as if they do not, zero hour contracts become a way for employers to cut corners and not value their workers.”

Unions have criticised the proposed changes, claiming that there is little substance to the plans.  Trades Union Congress General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The government has taken a baby step – when it needed to take a giant leap.

These plans won’t stop the hire and fire culture of zero-hours contracts or sham self-employment. And they will still leave 1.8 million workers excluded from key protections.”

UK factories enjoy best week for new orders since 1988

British factories received more orders this month than any other in the last three decades, according to an industry survey.

The report from the Confederation of British industry adds to growing evidence that the fall in the value of the pound since last years Brexit vote is helping manufacturers.

Best week for UK factories in 29 years. Source: Google

The CBI’s monthly industry health check showed massive growth in both total and export orders, resulting in higher factory output as firms expect the trend to continue over the next three months.

While manufacturing only makes up 10% of the UK economy, the strength of the CBI report will increase the chances of growth picking up after a slow year so far.

Firms are still dealing with an increase in costs but the CBI said these were improving since the 15% drop in the value of sterling earlier this year pushed up the price of imported materials and fuel.

Anna Leach, the CBIs’ head of economic intelligence, said: “UK manufacturers are once more performing strongly as global growth and the lower level of sterling continue to support demand.

“Output growth has picked up again, and export order books match the highest in more than 20 years.”

“Nonetheless, uncertainty continues to hold back investment and cost pressures remain strong.”

The news comes ahead of tomorrow’s chancellor’s budget and will provide a much needed boost to his position after his widely criticised first budget.


15% drop in British Pound. Source: Google

Keep up to date with all the latest news and features from EN4NEWS


What is global entrepreneurship week?

This November sees the 10th anniversary of Global Entrepreneurship Week.  Nearly 160 countries will be taking part in the festivities.


The week is dedicated to celebrating innovators and entrepreneurs. It is the world’s largest celebration of business, with over 35,000 events across the world. From those interested in starting a business of their own, to workshops in schools, there are a whole array of opportunities to get involved in.



President of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, Jonathan Ortmans. Source:


President of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, Jonathan Ortmans said the Network highlights the progress they have made as a company:


“Since it launched in 77 countries in 2008, GEW [Global Entrepreneurship Week] has been the impetus behind more than 120,000 events, activities and competitions – with nearly 60 million participants – to help people unleash their ideas and take the next step in their entrepreneurial journey.”


Expect to see a variety of events across Scotland to help and inspire local business owners in their endeavours to produce a successful business. The League of Entrepreneurs Edinburgh will be holding a meetup event on Wednesday the 15th of November at Wash Bar in Edinburgh, and will have successful businessmen and women attending to provide advice and stories of their experiences.


Dr. Daniel Winterstein – serial entrepreneur, computer scientist and co-founder of Sodash, SoGrow, MyLoop and Winterwell – will be the guest speaker for this event.


The League of Entrepreneurs states on their website:


“You can meet awesome people to help you build your startup or find an awesome startup to join as a CoFounder, Investor, Mentor, Adviser or Intern. Share your war stories, gain information on funding opportunities and discover ways to increase your chances of startup success.”


Credit: Global Entrepreneurship Week website.


What kind of support does GEW and the Network offer?


It highlights the help its partners can provide, such as Scotland’s Business Gateway. Business Gateway is also known for holding its own events and workshops which feature a range of professional resources and opportunities to aid the companies.


The locally funded company provides free business support to those starting businesses for the first time or those looking to expand their businesses.


Most of the events GEW offers are free to attend and are highly recommended for entrepreneurs at any stage of their career.


For more information on UK events, visit the GEW Twitter page for the latest news.


DiMaggio’s restaurant to open in former bank HQ

A historic location in Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square will be the home of a new branch of Scottish-based Italian restaurant DiMaggio’s as part of a wider refurbishment scheme.

The former HQ of the Royal Bank of Scotland, known as The Registers, will be transformed into a restaurant that will cater to 200 people as well having two bars. The development is estimated to cost around £2 million.


RBS left the location in 2005 when it moved to Gogarburn, but has kept a presence at the Dundas Street branch just three doors down.

The location will also feature 50 apartments, shops and office spaces. Work is being done by the Chris Stewart Group, and is due to start in October 2017.

Managing director of The DiMaggio Group, Tony Conetta, said in a statement that “This is an incredibly exciting project for us, in both an iconic building and location.

“The Edinburgh Grand Banking Hall is rich in history, both for the capital and for Scotland as a whole. By carefully retaining and restoring the many original features we will bring this heritage to life.”

Chris Stewart added, “The ambition The Di Maggio Restaurant Group has for the space both in terms of design and quality is a perfect fit for The Registers, and we are delighted to welcome them as tenants.”

Terrace 1 - smaller.jpg

The location was previously owned by former Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov, who planned on turning it into a hotel but could not get the funding. The site was then sold at auction after Romanov’s businesses collapsed.


Budget 2016: Chancellor Signalled his “Commitment to Edinburgh” said City Leader Andrew Burns today

Maria Gran


Chancellor George Osborne has signalled his “commitment to Edinburgh” in his spring budget, City leader Andrew Burns said today.

Speaking the day after the Chancellor backed proposed funding for the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal, Mr Burns said the extra money would help the Capital grow its economy.

The deal will seal an extra £1bn fund from the UK and Scottish governments, which aims to allow cities and regions to grow their economies.

Councillor Burns said: “Yesterday’s Spring Budget signalled an important commitment to Edinburgh and to our neighbouring local authorities.

“Through more innovation, the development of skills and infrastructure projects and the acquisition of increased powers, we can further enhance the region’s reputation as a great place to live, work, do business and invest in, and help accelerate economic growth not just for the region but for the whole of Scotland and the wider UK.”

Detailed information on what the funds will be spent on is yet to be released, but it is believed that transport, housing and universities are among the frontrunners for funds.

The hope is that securing the £1bn fund will attract £3.2bn from private sector business, that will further boost the economy.

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