Mike Rumbles MSP and Aberdeenshire Councillors Anne Stirling and Isobel Davidson are calling on the bank to play a stronger role in communities across the North East, even if that means working with competitors by having joint facilities. Mr Rumbles also raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon and has written to the CEO of RBS, Ross McEwan.
In the wake of the announcement of seven branch closures across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, the North East Liberal Democrats have raised their concerns about the future of town centres if banking services are withdrawn. Mr Rumbles, Cllr Stirling of Turriff Ward and Cllr Davidson of Ellon Ward have asked the CEO to look again at the damaging impact of the closures in Banff, Ellon, Huntly, Turriff, Montrose, Dyce and Bridge of Don, and take steps to retain services for communities across the region.
In a session of Topical Questions in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, the Minister for Business Paul Wheelhouse welcomed Mr Rumbles idea of shared premises for banking services in rural communities by adding the Scottish Government’s support for the proposal.
Mr Rumbles said: “The loss of RBS banking services could have a devastating impact across communities in the North East. I am shocked by the short sightedness of withdrawing high street facilities from tens of thousands of businesses and individuals.
“I have written to the CEO of RBS asking him to think again about these damaging cuts. Instead I want to see the bank taking a leading role in our rural communities, building business hubs in our town centres and encouraging custom for themselves and other businesses.”
Cllr Davidson added: “The most important thing now is to make a strong case to retain the local branch in Ellon, even if that means working with other businesses or competitors to share premises.
“If these closures go ahead, it will force local people and businesses to travel further and further to find an open branch. Not everyone can use online services and many businesses still work in cash.”
Notes for editors:
- Letter from Mike Rumbles MSP to the Chief Executive Office of The Royal Bank of Scotland, Ross McEwan attached.
- Mike Rumbles question to Minister for Business Paul Wheelhouse on 05/12/17: I have written to the Chief Executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland asking him to examine the possibility of working with other businesses even his competitors, to establish shared premises from which to operate. Would the Minister support such an initiative which would share costs and allow banks to remain in our local towns and villages across the North East of Scotland which is being particularly hit by these closures?
- Selected response from Paul Wheelhouse MSP: I certainly would welcome that … He [Mr Rumbles] is right to challenge on these issues and is right to identify the need for banks to collaborate … It would not be necessary to close all branches if the banks could collaborate to provide essential facilities … There is an opportunity here for the banks to try to collaborate and try to resolve these issues.