The campaign to save local branches of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Aberdeenshire is not over, according to Liberal Democrats Mike Rumbles MSP and Councillors Anne Stirling, Isobel Davidson and John Latham, who have called for a meeting with the bank’s CEO of Personal Banking.
Last month, RBS announced seven branch closures across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire in Banff, Ellon, Huntly, Turriff, Montrose, Dyce and Bridge of Don.
Mr Rumbles spoke in the Scottish Parliament on the issue, requesting that RBS and the Scottish Government look at a new ‘shared premises’ model for town and village centres. With his fellow North East Liberal Democrats, Mr Rumbles called on the CEO of RBS to look again at the damaging impact of the closures and take steps to retain services for communities across the region by sharing facilities with other business. Following correspondence with RBS, Mr Rumbles has now requested a meeting with the CEO of Personal and Business Banking, Les Matheson.
Mr Rumbles said: “Banks still provide an essential on-street service and they have a responsibility to meet the needs of their customers. There are many loyal customers of RBS who cannot access online facilities, or feel uncomfortable using online banking.
“It is simply common sense to take this opportunity to design a new way of doing things. There is nothing in the rulebook to say that local businesses and banks can’t share facilities. Just like the Post Office.”
Cllr Stirling added: “Our town centres and local services are under immense pressure. The local branch of RBS has a good local record and provides a friendly high street service. Local businesses and families depend on being able to use those services without having to travel further and further to access them. Campaigning to keep our local branch open is one of my top priorities.”
Cllr Davidson repeated the calls for the service to be retained: “It is incredibly short-sighted of RBS to cut local banking services. I have no doubt it will lead to many people switching to another bank. What we need now is some forward thinking from RBS. The bank is still under public ownership and they have a duty to serve the public.”
Cllr Latham also added: “When the branch in Alford closed, local residents and businesses were told to move their accounts to Huntly and Westhill. Now that the branch in Huntly is closing, and Westhill is long gone, some loyal customers may have to make a fifty mile round trip to the closest RBS.
“Huntly is a self-contained town full of businesses and it is a considerable distance to the next available branch, not having a local Royal Bank is simply not good enough. The bank must rethink this damaging move.”
Notes for Editors:
- Text of letter from Mike Rumbles to RBS CEO of Personal and Business Banking, Les Matheson (10/01/18):
Thank you for your reply of 15th December regarding RBS branch closures in the North East.
You may be aware that the Scottish Parliament recently held a Members Business debate to consider the issue of RBS branch closures and its damaging impact on rural communities. I was fortunate to be called to speak in the debate and I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my position.
Like many in the North East, I am a former customer of RBS. I no longer banked with RBS when my local branch in Alford was closed. Despite this, many of my constituents remained loyal to the bank under the assurance that neighbouring branches in Huntly and Westhill would remain open. Now those very same customers are being asked to travel even further, in many cases a trip to the closest branch will now require a round trip of fifty miles or more.
I am certain you will understand the disappointment of many businesses and individuals who depend on having good and frequent access to on-street services. Likewise, I am sure you will also appreciate that mobile banks will not deliver the same level of service that your customers have come to expect from RBS.
With that in mind, I urge you to consider retaining services in rural communities in the North East. I encourage you to take this opportunity to try a new model, such as sharing premises or banking facilities with other high street businesses.
It would be greatly appreciated if you could take the time to meet me to explore the pros and cons of establishing such a new model for the rural North East.