RBS’s ‘shameful betrayal’

Argyll & Bute MP Brendan O'Hara and protesters outside the branch.
Argyll & Bute MP Brendan O'Hara and protesters outside the branch.

Local MP Brendan O’Hara has accused RBS of a “shameful betrayal” of rural communities following its decision to close 62 of its Scottish branches including Rothesay.

Mr O’Hara also accused the RBS of undermining all the hard work being done by the Scottish Government, Argyll & Bute Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise in promoting his constituency.

The bank has said more of its customers are accessing services online or with mobile devices. Under its proposals the Victoria Street branch in Rothesay will close on June 26, 2018.

Mr O’Hara, who has launched a petition against the closure, said: “It is absolutely appalling that without any consultation whatsoever, the RBS thinks it can simply walk away from the communities that helped bail it out to the tune of almost £50 billion, just a few years ago.

“Visiting many local businesses around Bute there was overwhelming public anger and a sense of betrayal very evident about the proposed RBS closure.

“There was widespread support for this petition, in fact, I didn’t have enough petitions sheets and had to get more printed. Already, there are several hundred signatures and I would urge all those likely to be affected to sign up at any one of the local retailers keen to support this.”

Promising to work with anyone and everyone to get this decision reversed, Mr O’Hara continued:“This is a shameful betrayal of rural Scotland and I have launched a petition that I shall take to the floor of the House of Commons, demanding that the Chancellor intervenes on behalf of the taxpayer to halt these plans.”

Immediately following the closure announcement, the Argyll & Bute MP lodged a motion at Westminster condemning the closure and raised the matter on Monday in a debate led by SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford.

An RBS spokesman said: “Since 2012 we have seen the way in which people use our Rothesay branch change dramatically, with now 85 per cent of customers already banking in other ways locally.

“Transactions in the Rothesay branch have reduced by 33 per cent since 2012 with now only 74 customers visiting the branch on a weekly basis. Fifty per cent of customers are now choosing to bank digitally with us on a regular basis instead. We are communicating with our customers affected by the closure and pro-actively contacting vulnerable customers and regular branch users.

We have extended the time between announcing our decision and the branch closure to six months; this has been done so that we can ensure our customers have enough time to consider the right banking options for them and to give us time to support them one-to-one during the transition.”