RESIDENTS in one of the communities hit by Royal Bank of Scotland’s latest round of closures have said the loss of their branch will be a “catastrophe” for the area.
The RBS in Juniper Green is among nine in Edinburgh due to shut in May or June next year in a move which will halve the number of the bank’s branches in the Capital.
But after a series of bank closures in Balerno, Currie and Colinton, the Juniper Green RBS is the last bank for miles around.
Richard Watt, former secretary of Juniper Green Community Council, said “It’s a catastrophe. There are a limited number of shops in the village now and it’s important people come into the centre for banking. The banks in Balerno, Currie and Colinton have all closed, this was the last surviving one.
“I was doing a survey there and the bank was full of people from Currie, Balerno and Colinton, so it serves a very wide area.”
Edinburgh South West SNP MSP Joanna Cherry has written to RBS chief executive Ross McEwan urging him to reconsider the closure of both Juniper Green and Chesser.
She wrote: “When residents were told about the closure of RBS Colinton branch, one of the justifications for the closure were that services were available a mere 1.6 miles away at the Juniper Green branch. If the availability of services nearby was a factor in that closure, then it is imperative that RBS follows its own logic and keeps Juniper Green open.”
She noted RBS’s claim that there had been a shift to online banking. But she said: “I have no doubt your internal data will show that those who have made the legitimate choice not to use online banking are older customers. The clear conclusion from this decision is that RBS is proposing these older customers take multiple buses to their nearest bank.”
Pentland Hills Tory councillor Dominic Heslop backed calls to save the Juniper Green branch. He said: “It’s very regrettable especially since the RBS in Juniper Green is the only source of banking in the area. It’s another facility lost to the village – the public loos opposite have been closed and there are more and more empty units.
“Not everyone is connected to the internet or wants to bank online. People still use cheques so they have to go to a bank to pay them in.”
RBS said it would have a digital expert serving the Juniper Green branch until it closes, offering customers training and support with digital skills.
It admitted the next nearest RBS branch was at Bruntsfield, 4.39 miles away. But it said it had a national agreement with the Post Office for customers to pay money in and take money out and said there were five post offices within 2.56 miles.