Anger as RBS says Newtown branch closing

The Royal Bank of Scotland in Newtown St Boswells is closing.
The Royal Bank of Scotland in Newtown St Boswells is closing.

Plans by the Royal Bank of Scotland to close its branch in Newtown St Boswells have been described as a disaster for the village.

RBS confirmed to The Southern yesterday that the branch will close in June, along with those in Greenlaw and Chirnside.

An RBS spokesperson said more customers were using online and telephone banking, and that all three branches had witnessed substantial drops in the number of customers using them regularly.

RBS says the Newtown branch only has 26 regular customers, with the total number who use it falling by nearly a third since 2011.

Bank bosses have promised to work with local Post Offices and a new mobile van to limit the impact, and say there will be no redundancies, with all affected staff redeployed locally.

But newsagent Eoin Frame says it is a real blow for the village, coming not long after the closure of its Post Office branch.

“This is a real disaster, and will have a serious impact on a lot of people and small businesses – remember, this branch also serves communities in St Boswells, Midlem, Maxton, Bowden and Eildon,” Mr Frame said. “I think you’ll probably see quite a lot of RBS’s local customers switching to Bank of Scotland which also has a branch in the village.”

Jack Clarke is convener of Scottish Borders Chamber of Commerce and a former managing director of John Swan Ltd, which runs the local livestock auction market.

“You can see the bank’s point of view, but this will still be extremely disappointing for the great many people who prefer dealing with banks in person and don’t use online or mobile phone banking.

“It’s yet another example of a loss of personal contact and the livestock market will also be affected, as the company does all its banking at the Newtown branch.

“So I would hope if RBS plans to introduce a mobile van, they ensure it’s in Newtown on market sale days.”

Local MSP John Lamont now wants an urgent meeting with RBS bosses over the closures.

“They need to understand just how damaging these closures could be to these communities,” he said.