South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has reiterated his call for the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell to block plans for further closures of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) branches in the area.


In December last year RBS revealed that they planned to axe 62 branches across Scotland, including a number of branches that serve south Scotland - Annan, Gretna, Langholm and Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway; Biggar, Carnwath 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.


In February the company announced that ten branches would receive a “stay of execution” and wouldn’t face immediate closure but instead be reviewed at the end of the year including the Biggar, Douglas, Melrose and Gretna branches which serve South Scotland.


Chartered accountants and business advisers Johnston Carmichael have been commissioned by RBS to carry out the review of the branches and are seeking customer and community views, including visiting Gretna branch on 2 August.


However, Colin Smyth while urging customers and staff to put forward views in the consultation, he is urging the UK Government to intervene as RBSs largest shareholder and block any further closures.


Colin Smyth said, “Whilst I would urge all customers and the community to make their views heard through the RBS consultation on the remaining branches facing a stay of execution, the reality is the UK Government has the power to end the uncertainty and block any further closures right now. It really is time that the Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell stood up for customers and staff and put a stop to these closures. People are sick and tired of his crocodile tears over bank closures when he knows full well that the UK Government, as the largest shareholder in RBS, have the power to block these closures. If David Mundell fails to act then these closures, the jobs losses and the inconvenience for customers will not only have happened on his watch, he will have been culpable through his failure to act when he knows he could have”.