RBS to close three more Edinburgh branches

The RBS branch on Biggar Road, Fairmilehead. Picture: Greg Macvean

The RBS branch on Biggar Road, Fairmilehead. Picture: Greg Macvean

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Bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland is shutting three more of its city branches in its latest round of closures.

The bank, which was saved by taxpayers following the financial crisis in 2008, is to shut its Fairmilehead, Colinton and Heriot-Watt University branches later this year.

Bosses at the Capital-headquartered giant blamed the move on the growth of online and telephone banking and stressed that there were alternative ways for people in the area to continue to bank with them.

But politicians said loyal customers and taxpayers who funded the bank’s multi-billion-pound rescue package deserved better.

The Fairmilehead branch will close on October 16, the Colinton branch on November 2 and the Heriot-Watt branch on the November 9.

RBS has already closed six branches in Edinburgh – South Gyle, Tollcross, Royal Infirmary, North Bridge, Balerno and Goldenacre – again due to “falling numbers of branch transactions”.

The closures in Edinburgh will lead to one redundancy, with other employees re-deployed elsewhere within the group.

Pentlands MSP Gordon Macdonald said closing branches was an “unusual way” to thank the people who “bailed them out” following the banking crisis.

“The public owns 79 per cent of RBS and the UK government ultimately owns this bank so therefore it should ensure it continues to serve the very taxpayers who came to their assistance,” he added.

ATMs located at Colinton and the Heriot-Watt University branch will be kept, but the Fairmilehead branch will shut entirely.

Councilllor Jason Rust, Tory member for Colinton and Fairmilehead, said older customers would suffer the most. He said: “It’s clearly very disappointing that RBS is closing the banks which are used by many people, particularly the elderly.

“People don’t necessarily have access to transport and this is a real blow. RBS has been an integral part of the community.

“I am also concerned about the future of the buildings themselves once they have been vacated.”

He added that the latest closures, coming after the Bank of Scotland said it would shut its Fairmilehead branch, came as a “triple blow” for people living in that area.

In May, the Bank of Scotland revealed it was to close 13 branches nationwide, with Edinburgh the worst hit as the company axed Marchmont, Blackhall, Fairmilehead, St James, Holyrood, Murrayfield and Sighthill.

RBS has reached agreements with some post offices to allow customers access to banking services.

The Heriot-Watt branch has seen the number of transactions drop by 53 per cent since 2011, Fairmilehead by 15 per cent since 2011 and the Colinton branch by 17 per cent since 2011.

A spokeswoman for RBS said the decision to close the three branches had been difficult, adding: “Our customers are increasingly using alternative ways to bank with us such as online and mobile banking.

“As a result, branch transactions have declined by around 36 per cent since 2010 whilst online and mobile transactions have grown by more than 300 per cent.”