Residents slam decision to close Craigentinny RBS branch

Councillor Alex Lunn joins residents angry about the closure of the Craigentinny branch of RBS. Picture: Greg Macvean
Councillor Alex Lunn joins residents angry about the closure of the Craigentinny branch of RBS. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A HIGH street bank – described by local residents as a community lifeline – looks set to close next month.

Craigentinny’s RBS will shut on August 17 after transactions fell by a quarter in the last five years amid a surge in online and telephone banking.

But banking chiefs are being urged to re-think the closure to support elderly people who rely on the branch and are not confident using the Internet.

Brenda Devilin has written to RBS on behalf of Craigentinny Community Centre to object to the closure, describing the branch as an “essential local facility”.

She said: “Keeping a cash machine in the local community does not provide the personal service that many people need in their neighbourhood.

“Statistics show that the community has an aging population using local facilities because of their inability to travel far.

“Internet banking is not something that would be considered as an alternative for many of them.”

Alex Lunn, SNP councillor for the ward and Giacomo Modica, chairman of Craigentinny Community Council, are campaigning for the branch to stay open.

Mr Modica, who accused the bank of putting profit before customers, said: “This is a lifeline for the community and it feels like RBS is abandoning them. A lot of pensioners don’t have computers so they can’t do online banking. If it’s telephone banking you have got a number of passwords to put through and a lot of pensioners struggle to remember their four-digit pin number.”

Mr Modica said the closure would particularly affect disabled people, while Cllr Lunn said he was concerned the building would be left empty.

An RBS spokesman described the decision to shut as “difficult” .

The nearest RBS branch is in Portobello, just over a mile away, and there are four other branches within a 3.3-mile radius.

RBS has also reached an agreement with the nearby post office to allow customers to pay in and take money out, and check their balance.

The spokesman said: “We’re closing this branch because the number of transactions at the branch has reduced by 25 per cent since 2011, and only 86 customers use the branch on a regular weekly basis. Of these customers 56 already use other branches in the area.

“We are committed to following the UK government protocol on branch closures, and we have made the decision following careful consideration of a wide range of factors including branch usage and the alternative ways our customers can bank with us locally.

“Our customers are increasingly using alternative ways to bank. As a result, branch transactions have declined by around 46 per cent since 2010 whilst online and mobile transactions have grown by more than 400 per cent.”

The bank has written to customers who use the branch, as well as displaying posters to let them know of the closure.