Russell is banking on the dawning of sense

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Local MSP Michael Russell is urging the community to express their concerns about the decline of high street banking before it is too late.

The Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations spoke out following a spate of closures by RBS, reductions in opening times by TSB and, recently, the threat of charges for drawing cash from ATM machines.

‘I have been very critical of the process of closure particularly by the Royal Bank which was saved from disaster by the taxpayer but which has shown, under its current management, not an ounce of gratitude to those same taxpayers, particularly in rural areas,’ he told The Oban Times.

‘There needs to be some sort of face to face banking service in communities and the withdrawal by the major banks is irresponsible and against the wishes of their customers.

‘This could be stopped by the UK Government, but they have allowed those involved to ride roughshod over community concerns.’

As well as the inevitable difficulties for customers and small businesses in particular, Mr Russell is concerned about the number of ‘unintended consequences’ to the withdrawal of services.

‘I have raised with the Royal Bank the additional pressure on rural post offices which now have to carry more cash and receive in more payments,’ he added. ‘This creates risks to the often part-time staff but the banks don’t seem to care.

‘All in all this has been a shoddy story and it continues.

‘The more the public express their anger at it, the more chance there is of some sense dawning on the management of the banks.’

In Scotland, 399 bank branches have closed since 2015 with TSB cutting opening hours at a further 71 branches, including in Oban.