Cardtronics, the largest independent ATM operator in Britain, is likely to close its cash machines in pubs across the country on the ground that they are not profitable.

According to The Times, the company is planning to close almost 1,500 machines in a move that will inflame a row about customers’ access to cash.

Many operators are lobbying politicians over proposals by Link, which runs the UK’s 55,000 free-to-use card machine network, to change the way it works.

Link has completed a consultation over proposals to cut the fees that the 38 members of the network pay each other when customers withdraw cash.

Link says that the change anticipates an expected fall in consumers’ use of cash, but its plans have drawn criticism from politicians and other groups, which say that they could lead to the closure of machines or the imposition of fees.

A spokesman for Cardtronics, which operates 20,000 machines in Britain, told The Times: “There are specific plans to close some of our machines due to the prospect of lower Link interchange payments, combined with rising cost pressures, which include the recent introduction of polymer notes, the need for software upgrades as well as increasing crime-prevention costs.”