'˜Visit Barra' call to RBS chief as fury grows at branch cuts

The chief executive of RBS has been urged to visit a remote island community that stands to be among the worst hit by the sweeping branch closures announced by the bank last week.

Sunday, 3rd December 2017, 6:06 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th December 2017, 12:58 pm
Ross McEwan has been invited to Barra in the Outer Hebrides, which is set to lose its only bank. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Ross McEwan has been invited to Barra in the Outer Hebrides, which is set to lose its only bank as a result of the cost saving measure.

Angus MacNeil, the SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, challenged McEwan to travel to the island to witness first- hand the impact it will have on a population just under 1,200 strong.

MacNeil said: “I have asked Ross McEwan to a meeting in Barra because he must follow former US president Harry Truman’s maxim, ‘the buck stops here,’ and show that he is responsible and understands fully the effects of the bank’s actions.

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“The public saved RBS, therefore surely they will have the courage to face the same public.”

It comes as the fall-out continues from the bank’s announcement that it is to close more than one in three of its Scottish branches. A total of 62 branches will be shut, with the loss of about 158 jobs.

Across the UK, the banking group is closing 259 branches, which is expected to result in the loss of around 680 jobs.

The bank said shifting consumer habits were partly responsible for the decision, with the number of its customers using its branches in Scotland falling by 44 per cent since 2012 and the number of mobile users up 39 per cent on 2015.

However, the Unite union has accused RBS – still 71 per cent owned by taxpayers – of “betraying communities”.

The Scottish Government has called for a guaranteed minimum level of banking services after the RBS announcement.

Business minister Paul Wheelhouse has urged the UK government to establish and enforce such a provision for “essential” banking services.

Describing the loss of the branches as a “body blow to our high streets”, he said it would hit remote rural communities, small businesses and vulnerable customers the hardest.