Published: 09/02/2018 13:00 - Updated: 08/02/2018 12:45

Bank branch closure fight goes on

Written byEmma Crichton

 

FSB chairwoman Amanda Frazer.
Amanda Frazer has called for businesses to make their views known on the proposed closures.

USE it or lose it – this was the warning issued by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) bosses as they confirmed a stay of execution for 10 branches.

Three Highland branches are among the 10 the banking giant has handed a reprieve but it warned they will be re-assessed at the end of the year and if they do not show "sustainable transactional increases and viable new income" they will face the axe.

Beauly, Kyle of Lochalsh and Tongue have been given a reprieve while Nairn, Aviemore, Grantown, Inverness Queensgate, Tain, Wick and Mallaig remain at risk, as part of proposals to close 62 branches across Scotland.

A statement released by Jane Howard, RBS managing director for personal banking, said concerns about the closures had been listened to.

A commitment has also been made to protect ATMs, or replace them elsewhere, if there are no other free machines within one kilometre of the closing branch.

Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey MP Drew Hendry called on communities to keep the pressure up to save their local branches.

He will be hosting a series of public meetings with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to get feedback from businesses and residents about the impact RBS bank closures will have on the communities of Nairn, Aviemore and Grantown.

Mr Hendry intends to take the findings from the meetings to RBS management, in a bid to stop proposed branch closures his constituency.

Mr Hendry said: "It is excellent news that, following pressure from the SNP Westminster group and my colleague Ian Blackford, RBS has reversed its decision to close the last banks in towns. It is now vital that we keep up the pressure to save our local branches as well.

"Proposals to remove these banking services won’t only have a huge impact on tourist spend in our towns and villages, it will leave many families and businesses without adequate face-to-face banking facilities and, vitally, with even more cash point closures.

"That is why I am delighted that our local FSB will be teaming up with me to host these meetings. I would encourage those who will be most affected by these proposals to come along and share their views."

The meeting at Nairn Community Centre starts at 6.30pm on Monday.

FSB Highlands and Islands area leader Amanda Frazer said: "The closure of rural bank branches and ATMs is hitting Highland businesses and communities hard, for it is not just businesses and communities that need to access the services, it is also their visitors.

"I would encourage all local businesses to make their feelings known. It is only by working together that we can hope to make an impression."

Mr Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP) said: "This is great news for the people who were facing having no bank at all in their communities and I am delighted that management of RBS has listened and done the right thing by them.

"I congratulate everyone who has stood up to these threats and the reward is theirs."

Unite union bosses in Scotland said RBS has been forced to look at the plans again due to public backlash.

May Alexander, deputy secretary for Scotland, said: "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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