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Rod AshleyRod Ashley, the Chief Executive of ­Airdrie Savings Bank (pictured) was questioned at Holyrood yesterday as MSPs sought to determine the potential repercussions of the decision taken last month by the bank to close its doors for the final time. Airdrie Savings Bank is the last surviving independent savings bank in the country and the recent announcement will mean the potential loss of around 70 jobs and another blow to Scotland’s financial sector.

Ashley attended the evidence session alongside Unite regional officer, Wendy Dunsmore and Professor Charles Munn of Glasgow University, himself a former Chief Executive of The Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland; and answered questions from the economy, jobs and fair work committee.

Answering convener Gordon Lindhurst’s probing on the background of the decision to close, Mr Ashley said, “We undertook a strategic review and the medium to long term position was sufficiently uncertain that the decision was taken that there be a wind-down in an orderly fashion and in the interests of the depositors. You could have ended up in a situation where the bank continued making losses for years to come and winding down control would be taken out of the hands of the community and trustees and handled by regulators. The bank didn’t wish that to happen.”

Increasingly robust regulations and the switch to mobile banking, combined with the cost of updating their financial technology, were all flagged up as factors in the decision. Mr Ashley added that “the overarching factor outwith our control would be the lower-for-longer interest rate environment.”

Ms Dunsmore further commented on the loss of jobs that “the announcement was a shock, and lot of people have been loyal for lots of years, some have worked there for 40 years.