Ten rural RBS branches given stay of execution

Written by Tom Freeman on 7 February 2018 in News

RBS will review the decision to close ten of 62 branches under threat after political pressure

RBS - PA

Ten rural RBS branches will be kept open until the end of the year while they are independently reviewed, the bank has announced.

Last year RBS announced the closure of 62 branches across Scotland, which was met with dismay by communities and politicians on all sides.

The lastest development means branches in Biggar, Beauly, Castlebay on Barra, Comrie, Douglas in South Lanarkshire, Gretna, Inveraray, Melrose, Kyle of Lochalsh and Tongue will be kept open while a review of how frequently they are used is carried out.

The other 52 branches will still be closed.

In a statement the bank said it had "listened and engaged with customers, communities and elected representatives from all parties" and would provide additional support in the form of extra ATM machines and extended opening hours.

The SNP claimed credit for the decision after Westminster leader Ian Blackford had met with RBS chiefs.

He said: “While this will come as relief to the communities who can continue to use their branches, RBS have failed to perform a complete U-turn, and the SNP will continue to campaign for the remaining branches, which we have been told will still close."

But Liberal Democrat Scottish Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine, whose constituency contains the RBS headquarters, said the pressure had come from the public and from Westminster's Scottish Affairs committee, which plans to summon RBS chief executive Ross McEwan to explain the decision.

"It's extremely disappointing any politician should use this to claim credit for themselves, as if this were a political edition of The Apprentice," she said.

"These branch closures will be a bitter blow for staff and customers. Rather than slapping themselves on the back, Ian Blackford and co should be standing up for the more than 50 communities which are still set to lose their bank branches."

Andy Willox, Scottish policy convenor for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Many businesses in the locality of these branches will be pleased that they’ve been granted a reprieve. But for those firms who use the other 52 branches slated for closure, today’s news will be of little comfort.

“Similarly, while RBS’s ATM promise sounds reassuring – does it open the door to the branch dramatically reducing the number of cash machines it maintains across Scotland?

“While we accept that RBS have made some concessions, and we look forward to better understanding the details of this announcement, this doesn’t look like the change of heart for which we were looking.”

Deputy Scottish Secretary of the Unite trade union, Mary Alexander, said “We should be clear about this - it is a stay of execution. We believe that RBS has been forced to offer these concessions because of the campaign run by Unite and the local communities to expose the devastation of what the closures mean for communities and jobs. But if it’s good enough to make these concessions what are the bank prepared to do about the other 52 communities facing the axe.”

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