RURAL communities will be hit the hardest if cash machine fees go ahead, according to a politician.

Link, the biggest network of free-to-use ATMs in the UK, announced plans to axe or start charging interchange fees at up to 30,000 machines – 45 per cent of the UK total.

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser is warning rural areas will be hit hard by the changes.

Already, Methven only has two cash machine, both of which charge for withdrawals, and the Conservative representative reckons this could become commonplace across the country.

He said: “With Bank branches exiting the high street at an alarming rate there has never been a greater need for free-to-use cash machines.

“Many rural residents in Perth and Kinross are set to be robbed of their local bank branch and now face the prospect of having to pay to withdraw cash from standalone machines.

“There is no denying that banking is changing, but bank bosses need to realise that a lot of people rely on traditional means to bank and access cash.

“These proposals will be the first major test of the Payment Systems Regulator and I hope that they are able to step in and ensure customers don’t lose out.

“The convenient availability of free-to-use cash machines has helped rural businesses and I would encourage Link to seriously reconsider these cuts to parts of Perth and Kinross.”