MSP Joan McAlpine yesterday spoke at length with RBS bosses, after demanding a meeting to discuss alternatives to local closures.
Ms McAlpine told bosses she was deeply concerned with the extent of closures across the region, including branches in Annan, Lockerbie, Langholm and Gretna.
RBS made clear that the decision to close branches would not be reversed – a decision that Ms McAlpine said was deeply disappointing, and a betrayal to loyal customers and communities.
The MSP also pointed to the fact that RBS has been bailed out by the taxpayer – but has closed about 1,500 branches across the UK in just the last three years
“The UK Government is in a position to intervene and save these branches, given that it is taxpayer owned.
“Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell should be putting pressure on the bank – it is ludicrous that some of his constituents will need to cross the border to England to find their nearest branch.”
If the closures go ahead, the MSP said to RBS bosses they must carefully consider how services are maintained going forward – in particular ensuring privacy at Post Office counters, making sure vulnerable customers still have access to services, as well as disabled access in mobile branches.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“I am deeply disappointed that RBS are pushing ahead with branch closures across the region - particularly since the bank recently rebranded itself as the Royal Bank for Scotland.
“I can’t help but feel very cynical about this re-branding.”
“I am also concerned that RBS bosses are relying too heavily on Post Office counters as alternatives to branches – particularly since locals are already angry that their Post Offices are being downgraded and moved into high street shops.
“Bosses are currently mapping out routes for the mobile branches and I have asked for those to be sent to me.
“I also pressed the issue that RBS must publicise these routes and schedules widely, as well as through local media channels.”
Ms McAlpine voiced concerns over that fact that route planning and consultations with Post Masters about service provision was only happening now that the closures had been announced.
“It seems that RBS have left it a bit late if they are only considering these things now – which is very concerning.
“Bosses have told me they are committed to ensuring that people are still going to have excellent access to services – I really hope that these are not empty words.
“I will be keeping the pressure on to ensure that they get this right.”