RBS closures - MPs & MSPs Speak out

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has accused Royal Bank of Scotland of decimating their branch network in the south of Scotland following speculation that 62 of its branches were at threat of closure.

The closure list includes a number of branches that serve south Scotland including Annan, Gretna, Langholm and Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway; Biggar, Canwath and Douglas in South Lanarkshire; Dunbar and North Berwick in East Lothian, Duns, Eyemouth, Hawick, Jedburgh, Melrose and Selkirk in the Scottish Borders and Penicuik in Midlothian.

Colin Smyth said, “These closures would be devastating for staff at any time of year but in the run up to Christmas this news is downright cruel and my thoughts are very much with those employees who could be affected and their families. RBS say they will try to keep compulsory redundancies to a minimum but who are they trying to kid. They are decimating their branch network across the south of Scotland, so there are practically no alternative local branches for staff to move to and with more and more banks closing, opportunities in the industry are now few and far between. It is ironic that for customers in the area, their nearest Royal Bank of Scotland branches are in England”.

“RBS have been far from honest in this whole process. When I challenged them over the future of their Langholm branch recently when there was speculation it would close, they denied it. Now it faces the axe. In many cases this will be the last bank in a town or village leaving loyal customers high and dry. If we do not see Government action soon, there will be no banks left anywhere except in large towns and cities”.

“We need to see a change in the law that means when a bank is the last in an area, it cannot be closed without a full consultation with customers and then the final decision should be made by the independent Financial Conduct Authority. The Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell and the UK Government have been asleep on the job, simply ignoring the crisis we are seeing on our high streets. It’s time for them to get a grip and for once be on the side of bank staff and customers, not banks’ profits.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said:

“I am very disappointed to hear of the plans by the Royal Bank of Scotland to close so many of their branches across Scotland. 

"This is a serious issue for the communities they serve.

“While usage of branches may have dropped, they are still a lifeline for many people, especially in rural areas.

“I'll be seeking a meeting with the senior leadership of RBS to discuss these closures as a matter of urgency."

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has demanded that the Royal Bank of Scotland reconsiders plans to close four branches across the region, after a shock announcement that the bank plans a series of closures across the country.

Following the announcement that RBS plans to close Annan, Langholm, Gretna and Lockerbie branches, Ms McAlpine has written to RBS asking for an urgent meeting on the future of the local service.

The Scottish Government has said they will continue to engage closely with banks and with senior representatives from all major companies in the financial services industry.

Speaking on the issue of prospective local bank closures, Andy Willox Scottish policy convenor of the Federation of Small Businesses has said:

“Banks sharing facilities would be one way to mitigate the impact of local closures, alongside a smart ATM network and mobile banking.”

Commenting SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said:

“This is very disappointing news for both customers and particularly for staff who will now be worried about their future so close to Christmas.

“Local banking services are vital to communities across Dumfries and Galloway, and many people are still dependent on high street services – this is a lifeline service for some.

“It is extremely important that the banks listen to the needs of customers in the region and recognise that there is a continued need for face-to-face provision as well as cash withdrawal and deposit machines.

“I have written to RBS to seek an urgent meeting on the future of these local services and hope that they will think again on this closure.”