LAST week, TSB announced its intention to close 73 branches in Scotland, six of them here in Glasgow. As well as the loss of bank branches, some 300 jobs will also disappear. That announcement was met with widespread condemnation and deep concern about what it might mean for the communities affected.

TSB is these days a Spanish-owned commercial bank operating in exactly the same market as its, often significantly larger, competitors. Those of us of a certain age remember a rather different institution, the Trustee Savings Bank. Scotland can lay claim to having started the Trustee Savings Bank, the first bank being established in Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire in 1810 by the local minister, the Rev Henry Duncan. From the start, the trustee bank movement was almost exclusively intended to provide basic savings and banking services to people of modest means. That history is still reflected in the distribution of TSB branches today. It has a far larger footprint in the housing estates of cities like Glasgow and in small rural communities than the likes of RBS.

Nobody can deny that banking has changed radically in the past 20 years. Many of us rarely darken the door of a high-street bank and can do all our personal banking courtesy of a bit of plastic and a mobile phone. But that is not true for everyone. Financial exclusion is a real problem for a significant number of people, particularly among the elderly and those of modest means that the TSB was originally founded to support.

In communities like Springburn and Easterhouse, the TSB is, quite literally, the last bank standing. In many cases, the branches also host the only ATM where local residents can withdraw cash without having to pay for the privilege of accessing their own money. It is no exaggeration to say that these proposed closures will exacerbate financial exclusion and add to poverty in the very communities that are already hardest hit.

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, was quoted as saying “almost half a million people over 60 don’t use the internet, with the highest numbers in the most deprived areas. By turning its back on them, TSB clearly seems to be putting its profits before its customers”.

The TSB may well have moved on from its public-spirited and benevolent roots. However, it still harks back to those roots in its own publicity: “We offer friendly, honest and convenient banking that’s designed to meet our customers’ needs, not ours. It’s what makes us different – that and our commitment to the communities we serve.”

There is a clear contradiction between that statement and the proposed closure of more than half the TSB branches in Scotland.

It is for these reasons that I have written to the CEO of TSB, Debbie Crosbie, asking her to reconsider the proposed closures. I will also be pressing Glasgow City Council to engage with the banks, credit unions and others to ensure people continue to have access to financial services and free ATMs.

The Scottish Government also needs to take action – this is a Scotland-wide problem. Poll after poll suggests that tackling poverty is of far greater concern to Scots than the constitution. It’s maybe time to act on that.