The announcement recently by the Royal Bank of Scotland that they intend to close their branch in Juniper Green, and the last bank in the Water of Leith communities, has left many in the south west of Edinburgh both shocked and angered.
No viable alternatives have been offered for the many in the community who still rely on the face-to-face contact of high street banking. Small businesses, the elderly and those with a disability are at an obvious disadvantage as this essential aspect of civic society is slowly eroded.
The community, however, is not taking this decision lying down and a pressure group comprising members from Juniper Green, Currie and Balerno Community Councils, an elected councillor, Scottish and UK parliamentarians have been meeting regularly to try to find a way forward.
The pressure group has been discussing with RBS the possibility of providing a mobile van service for their communities. This is but one aspect of applying minimum requirements for banking services as part of the access to banking protocol being investigated by Councillor Ricky Henderson.
It is unclear, however, if this on its own could become little more than a sticking plaster applied to a much bigger problem.
Recently local MP Joanna Cherry raised the issue at PMQs in Westminster and MSPs Gordon Lindhurst and Gordon MacDonald have both asked questions at Holyrood so the group are investigating the Scottish Government’s solution of a combination of post office and credit union. The best option might well be to persuade an alternative face to face banking provider to come into a site in Juniper Green already earmarked for development. A proposed village trust in Juniper Green has recently considered options for the derelict toilet site in the village. Ideally, a downsized banking facility is one preferred option for its use if this can be agreed with an ethical provider and Edinburgh council.
If you are affected by this closure please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be kept informed on the pressure group’s progress.
Professor Cliff Beevers is chair of Juniper Green Community Council