MPs make urgent plea to save RBS branches

The Inveraray RBS branch - due to close by the end of 2018.

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A consultation on the closure of RBS bank branches in Inveraray and Castlebay on Barra will visit those areas next week, and local MPs are urging people to make their concerns known.

The Royal Bank of Scotland is closing 52 branches in Scotland this year, including Campbeltown, Mallaig and Rothesay, but granted a stay of execution to 10 branches, including Inveraray, Castlebay and Kyle of Lochalsh, until the end of 2018.

Earlier this year MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee called on the taxpayer-controlled bank to postpone the closures for six months for an independent review to ‘ensure they are not being set up to fail’.

RBS commissioned an independent study by business advisers Johnston Carmichael, who will make a recommendation to RBS on whether the banks should remain open or not.

They are visiting Inveraray, Barra and South Uist next week to discuss local concerns about the closures, before completing their review in September.

The review team will be at the RBS branch in Castlebay on Monday August 6 and Inveraray on Wednesday August 8 to meet with local residents on an appointment basis.

Western Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil said: ‘They have the power, frankly, to keep the banks open, and this makes it important that everybody who has a case to keep it open makes sure that case is heard by Johnston Carmichael.

‘I would encourage people to get in touch with them to make an appointment or to submit feedback by email or letter.

‘The case to keep the Barra branch open is very strong indeed and we also need to resume normal hours at Lochsboisdale, but we need to spell it out for Johnston Carmichael. They have the power to keep the branch open or not and RBS say they will be bound by their decision.

‘I would encourage everyone who has an interest, whether large or small – from the point of view of annual crofters cheques from lamb sales to daily businesses, or any charities, please get involved. Your voice is very important at this stage to keep banking services on Barra.’

Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara is urging all residents of Argyll and Bute to engage in the branch consultation for the proposed closure of Inveraray RBS, the last bank in the town.

Mr O’Hara said: ‘It is absolutely vital that residents speak to the consultants to make their views clear on the devastating impact the closure of the only bank left in the town will have.

‘It is unacceptable that a bank, 73 per cent of which is taxpayer-owned, is allowed to close the only bank left in town. This comes at a time when the local tourism industry is booming. RBS’s proposal contradicts everything that both the local authority, Argyll and Bute Council, and the Scottish Government are doing to boost rural communities such as Inveraray.

‘The tide is turning in favour of rural Argyll and Bute and, just as we’re on the cusp of reviving our prospects, RBS’s proposal is a potential body-blow to the town. We need to speak out, now. After the bailout RBS received from each of us as taxpayers 10 years ago, their actions now, at this time, are a grotesque breach of confidence.

‘I am furious at RBS’s lack of consideration for our constituencies well-being, and we need each and every one of you to make your views known to Johnston Carmichael and make sure they are left in no doubt about the depth of feeling about this proposal.’

To book an appointment please phone 01224 259 353. To give your views to Johnston Carmichael, you can email RBSbranchreview@jcca.co.uk; fill in an online questionnaire at www.jcca.co.uk/rbsbranchreview; or by writing to: The RBS Review Team, Johnston Carmichael LLP, 29 Albyn Place, Aberdeen, AB10 1YL.