This petition is yet another clear message to RBS that this decision is vehemently opposed by the community. Thank you to everyone who took the time to sign the petition and they can be assured that I will continue to work with the community to make case for this bank to remain open for business. We are not giving up.”
The fight to save the Campbeltown branch of RBS from closure moved on to the floor of the House of Commons this week when local MP Brendan O’Hara presented a petition to parliament. (Thursday 22 Ma…
Communities across Scotland, particular in our rural areas, are rightly concerned about the impact the decision by RBS to close branches, including in some cases the last branch in the community, will have on local businesses, employees, the elderly and vulnerable and all those who need access to banking services.
I know that more and more of us do our banking on the internet or by phone but that simply isn’t an option for everyone. RBS and the banking industry need to think again.
Many older or vulnerable members of our communities rely on branches to conduct their banking, and while banks have a duty to support people to transfer to mobile or online banking, for many that simply won’t be something they feel safe or comfortable doing.
Equally mobile and online banking doesn’t solve the problems of businesses, many of whom in rural communities will still take cash and who without local branches will now have to take significant time out of their working day to travel to the remaining branches to deposit their takings or to speak to someone if they need face to face for business advice.
Since the decision by RBS was announced the Scottish Government has stood side by side with the communities and employees affected. We have called on the UK Government as the government responsible for banking, and as part owners of RBS, to step up to the plate. We have asked them to establish and enforce a guaranteed minimum level of service provision for essential banking services, recognising the importance of continued access to banking for towns and communities across Scotland.
It was deeply disappointing this week to hear the Prime Minister continue to brush off my Westminster colleagues requests for the government to step in with party political attacks when she should have been standing up for the public interest.
The Scottish Government will continue to do everything it can to support affected staff and to identify solutions that will preserve access to essential banking services for customers and communities throughout the country but ultimately it is only the UK government that can act to stop these branch closures and that’s why campaigns like the Press and Journal’s campaign to Save our Banks are essential to add to the pressure and to force RBS and the UK government to provide a better service to rural Scotland.
I spent most of today in Inveraray talking to people and business owners about the proposed closure of the Royal Bank of Scotland, the last remaining bank in the town.
I was also there to launch a formal Parliamentary petition which will run over Christmas and the New Year and which I will present to parliament, on the floor of the House of Commons early in 2018.
I’d like to thank Donald Clark, proprietor of the George Hotel and Marian Pallister, the award winning journalist and author for being the first names on the petition.
I visited many businesses in the town and I was delighted that every single business I visited took a pile of petition forms to have on their front counters in the run up to Christmas.
Indeed such was the demand for forms that I ran out and will have to go back up to Inveraray to deliver more.
I can honestly say I have never before experienced such widespread anger in a community and I can’t blame them.
If this ridiculous closure plan happens, then Inveraray, a internationally recognised tourism hot-spot, with a least three substantial hotels, numerous cafes, bars, gift shops, quality clothing retailers and a castle, will have absolutely no banking facilities whatsoever.
I’m sure the levels of anger among the locals wasn’t help by an incredibly insensitive RBS advert in this morning’s Herald, with the slogan “it’s our job to respond to our customers’ changing lives”.
The truth is, rather than responding to their customers’ changing lives, it’s the RBS who are imposing change their customers’ lives.
As the motion I put down in Parliament yesterday says, this decision sends out all the wrong messages and undermines the work that has been and is being done by so many to help with the economic regeneration of Argyll & Bute.
And I repeat the call I made for the majority state-owned RBS to better recognise its social responsibility and stop this brutal closure programme.
I plan to be in Rothesay and Campbeltown in the near future to launch similar campaigns over the RBS decision to close the branches there too.