THE future of face-to-face banking in Helensburgh has been dealt a fresh blow with the news that the TSB is to significantly cut opening hours at its branch in the town.

From the end of July the branch in East Princes Street will only be open on Tuesdays and Fridays – a move the bank, like many others before it, has blamed on a fall in customer usage as more and more people choose to do their banking online.

The decision follows hot on the heels of the decision by Santander earlier this year to close its Helensburgh branch completely.

READ MORE: Anger as Santander announces closure of Helensburgh branch

Despite protests from local politicians and residents, the Santander branch in West Princes Street will shut for good in just one week’s time, on Thursday, April 25.

The TSB has also decided to cut opening hours at its branches in Dumbarton and Alexandria from late July.

The bank’s branch in Dumbarton’s High Street, will be open only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with its Alexandria equivalent, in the town’s Main Street, open on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

A spokesman for the TSB said the bank was “in the process of letting our customers of these branches know about the proposed changes”.

He added: “Our customers use banking services in different ways and that is why we try to adapt our offer to deliver them the best possible service however they choose to bank.

“This means investment in both branches and digital channels.

“With fewer people using some of our branches, we are reviewing the number of hours some of them open.

We have more than 150 branches across the country and 70 per cent of people in Scotland live within two miles of a TSB branch.

“Our branch partners are working with our customers to support them as we make these changes and there will be no job losses as a result of these changes.

“We will be advising customers of their nearest TSB branches, and it is worth mentioning that our customers can also complete many personal banking tasks at their local post offices.”

READ MORE: Santander urged to reconsider Helensburgh branch closure plan

Helensburgh’s MP, Brendan O’Hara, said: “I am extremely disappointed to hear about the TSB and coming so soon after the Santander announcement, this is yet another blow to bank customers in Helensburgh.

“This is part of a very worrying trend; a trend that seems to be accelerating with each passing year and one which will inevitably lead to banks on the High Street being the exception, rather than the norm.

“Although being presented as a reduction in opening hours, I fear this particular announcement is simply branch closure by stealth.

“I will be contacting the TSB seeking assurances about the long-term future of their Helensburgh branch.”

The bank’s decision has also been criticised by Helensburgh’s MSP, Jackie Baillie, who said: “While it is good news that TSB aren’t following the same pattern as other banks and closing their Helensburgh branch completely, it is disappointing to learn that they will be cutting their opening hours.

“It is clear that face-to-face banking is still vital for many people in our communities including older people and small businesses who rely on being able to deposit cash into a bank branch.

“Overall, this reduces the service to customers so I hope the TSB will review this decision and keep all of their branches open on a full time basis.”

READ MORE: MSP calls on government to force issue of Helensburgh bank closure plan

The TSB name returned to Helensburgh in 2015 after a ‘demerger’ with the Lloyds Banking Group, which had merged with the old Trustee Savings Bank in 1995.

Santander’s decision to close its Helensburgh branch – the bank’s last in Argyll and Bute – follows the closure of the Clydesdale Bank branch in the town’s James Street in 2015, and will leave the Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland as the only ones with a full-time branch service in the town.