RBS chiefs reportedly order U-turn of branch closures

RBS are planning to close branches across Scotland. Picture: Michael Gillen
RBS are planning to close branches across Scotland. Picture: Michael Gillen
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RBS chiefs have ordered a U-turn on the controversial closure of 62 branches throughout Scotland, according to the Sunday Mail.

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The bank has come under heavy public criticism for the decision, made on 1 December, which would see several local communities without a local branch.

Jane Howard, managing director of personal banking, and Les Matheson, chief executive of personal and business banking, defended the bank’s stance last month, saying it was less about saving money and more to do with responding to the rise in digital banking.

Closing the branches would bring in £9.5million in savings, which is around half of the total paid out in executive bonuses last year.

Highland councillor Kirsteen Currie criticised RBS, told the Sunday Mail: “The whole thing is outrageous.

“The evidence which they used to draw up their closure plans appears to have been drawn with crayons.

“Details slipping out at a weekend that some branches may or may not be shutting just adds to the whole sense of farce from RBS.

“They are a publicly owned entity. They should be making these branches useful community assets instead of trying to come​ ​up with ways to close them down.”

Meanwhile, SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford added that his discussions with the bank were “moving in a positive direction” and said he was hopeful that a breakthrough could be found.

But Mr Blackford said many of the affected branches provided “vital” local services, as he accused the Tory Government of “failing to lift a finger” to save them.

He went on to reveal that he has been “bypassing” the Prime Minister and talking directly to RBS chiefs about the plans, in a bid to ensure community concerns are heard.

The MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber has repeatedly pressed Theresa May on the closures at Prime Minister’s Questions, urging her to make the case to keep the branches open to RBS bosses in person.

He hit out at the Conservative Government, accusing it of failing to act on the issue.

Mr Blackford said: “The Tories are letting Scotland down by failing to lift a finger to save these vital local banks from closure - leaving many communities with the damaging prospect of losing their last bank in town.”

But he added: “While the UK Government refuses to take action, the SNP will continue our campaign to save these banks, which are hugely important for local people and businesses.

“That is why I have, for the past few weeks, been bypassing the Prime Minister to talk directly with RBS.

“Our discussions have been productive, and are moving in a positive direction. I am hopeful the concerns of our communities are being heard and that a breakthrough can still be found.”

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