South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has urged the Royal Bank of Scotland to halt plans to decimate their branch network in the south of Scotland after the recent news that the company reported a profit of £792m for the first three months of this year- up from £259m for the same quarter last year.
In December last year the bank revealed that they planned to axe 62 branches across Scotland, including a number of branches that serve south Scotland – Annan, Gretna, Langholm and Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway; Biggar, Canwath and Douglas in South Lanarkshire; Dunbar and North Berwick in East Lothian; Duns, Eyemouth, Hawick, Jedburgh, Melrose and Selkirk in the Scottish Borders and Penicuik in Midlothian.
In Febuary this year the company announced that ten branches would receive a “stay of execution” and wouldn’t face immediate closure but instead be reviewed at the end of the year including the Biggar, Douglas, Melrose and Gretna branches which serve South Scotland.
However, Colin Smyth has written to the bank’s Chief Executive and urged him to go further and halt plans to axe the 52 branches planned for closure and called on the UK Government- as the owners of the Royal Bank- to step in and block the closures.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said , “The news that the Royal Bank of Scotland have trebled their profits will be of no comfort to the staff losing their jobs and customers losing their local branch. RBS and other banks are decimating our High Streets with closure after closure and robbing local people of an important service. The news that RBS are making huge profits shows they can well afford to stop these closures without making any meaningful dent in those profits. The savings to RBS in a whole year from closing these banks is less than half a percent of the profits the company made in the first three months this year. RBS should halt these closures and if they fail to do so, then the UK Government as the owners of the bank should step in and make sure they do. The failure so far of the UK Government to take any action while these banks close , is utterly shameful and needs to change before the High Street Bank disappears for ever in most of our local towns and villages”.