LOCAL MP David Mundell has pressed the UK Government to move swiftly to deliver on their legislation plan to protect cash use.
The Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale representative was meeting the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, MP, as part of a consultation process.
Mr Mundell has been at the heart of a lengthy campaign to ensure continuing access to cash across the UK despite a significant decline in usage of traditional currency, particularly during the pandemic.
Highlighting his large rural constituency, the former Scottish Secretary proposed that the maximum distance between cash access points should not be based purely on a straight-line calculation.
He is seeking a requirement within the planned Access to Cash Bill that reflects rural and urban differences and other factors.
Mr Mundell said: "Moreover, there needs to be a recognition that a small town or large village serving a large rural area has different needs, for example, to a large village located in different geographical circumstances."
The local MP also called for the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to work together to put the Post Office network on a more sustainable footing, highlighting branches were a vital outlet for cash transactions.
He said: "The closure of some 31 branches by C. J. Lang (SPAR) in Scotland and the high turnover of postmasters, show the current model is not sustainable."
Mr Mundell also discussed the work of the independent Community Access to Cash Pilot Board, comprising bank, businesses and customer representatives, with whom he had recently held a meeting with the chairwoman.
It is trialing various ways of providing public access to cash and banking services in areas with no or little bank branch access and has set up experimental banking hubs in communities across the UK, including Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire.
Mr Mundell commented he was encouraged by his latest meeting with the Treasury and he would like to see legislation brought forward as soon as possible for the significant part of the population, some vulnerable, who depend on ready access to notes and coins.
He added: "As we hopefully emerge from the worst of Covid, I think it is also important to remind the public that extensive research has shown that cash remains safe to use and there is no evidence of it spreading the virus."