I wanted to share with you an update on an issue that resonates profoundly with our rural communities across Scotland.
I recently presented the Banking and Postal Services (Rural Areas) Bill in the House of Commons. This piece of legislation aims to safeguard the essential services that our rural communities depend on.
The collective voices of our communities have been crucial in bringing this issue to the forefront.
From the community councils to the individuals who engaged in our online discussions, I extend my gratitude for your contributions. The experiences and concerns shared highlight the unacceptable reality of service cuts and their disproportionate impact on our older residents.
This Bill proposes the implementation of minimum service standards for the provision of banking and postal services in rural areas. It is an effort to ensure that these critical services continue to be accessible through physical outlets.
Yet, the fight is far from over. This is about more than just preventing the last bank in any single rural community from closing. It’s about ensuring that all our communities, from the Highlands to the Borders, have the access they need to essential banking and postal services.
This is another stark example of how Westminster isn’t working for Scotland. Our rural communities form the backbone of Scotland, safeguarding our natural resources, and contributing significantly to our cultural heritage.
It's past time our rural communities were given legal protection against the loss of banking and post office services. Costs are already higher for those in and around our villages and towns. They deserve the right to these facilities for the future https://t.co/fpWB0rX1Z3
— Drew Hendry MP🇺🇦🏴 #ScotlandsChoice (@drewhendrySNP) June 21, 2023
Yet, these communities face increasing marginalisation due to Westminster’s inaction. The closure of bank branches and post offices due to economic shifts and technological advancements has left our rural residents feeling overlooked and isolated.
Particularly after Brexit, our rural communities are experiencing a population decline, with young people leaving to seek opportunities elsewhere, leaving behind an ageing population.
This demographic shift poses its own challenges – from a dwindling workforce to added strains on services for the elderly. The very fabric of these communities, the traditions and practices preserved over generations, are under threat.
The ongoing withdrawal of essential services from our rural communities isn’t just an issue; it is a crisis. We must ensure that our digital transition is inclusive, compassionate, and considerate of all our citizens, regardless of their location.
Yet, the UK Government’s inaction has been glaring. Without intervention, the digital divide will continue to widen, and our rural communities will face increasing marginalisation.
The survival and prosperity of our rural communities require a multi-pronged approach. The protection of essential services, investment in infrastructure, and the creation of opportunities are all threads in this intricate tapestry.
I am committed to fighting for these necessary changes, but I cannot do it alone. Your continued support is vital in this endeavour.
Together, we can make our case stronger and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. Let’s continue to work together for a better future for our rural communities.
The strength of our nation lies in the unity and welfare of all our communities, both rural and urban. Let’s ensure we uphold this strength by safeguarding the services our rural communities depend on.