Bank bosses are to be called to account by MPs over their plans to close scores of branches across Scotland, including six in the Borders.
Les Matheson, the Royal Bank of Scotland’s chief executive for personal and business banking, and other senior executives are to appear before the UK Government’s Scottish affairs select committee next year to discuss their plans to close 62 branches north of the border.
Those proposed closures account for more than a third of the company’s branches in Scotland and are expected to result in almost 160 job losses, about 30 of them in the Borders.
Scottish affairs committee members – including Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont – intend to question RBS about the impact the closures will have on communities served by the banks to be axed and on RBS staff facing the threat of redundancy.
Committee chairman Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and north Perthshire, said: “RBS’s decision to close over 60 branches will have a serious impact on the people of Scotland and may leave some rural communities without a local bank.
“We will want to hear from RBS how such cuts can be justified by a bank that the UK Government, and therefore the taxpayer, still owns the majority stake in.
“We will reserve the right to extend this short inquiry if we feel we do not secure satisfactory responses.
“We are, therefore, also hoping to hear from the Government and, if necessary, from Ross McEwan, chief executive of RBS.”
Mr Lamont, one of 11 members of the committee, added: “There has been a huge amount of anger at the decision by RBS to close so many branches across Scotland.
“I very much support the committee’s inquiry into this.
“As well as the huge impact on customers, I have concerns about the proposals to close ATMs and the suggestion that post offices will take on some banking services.
“My focus will be on putting pressure on RBS to look again at this decision because it is not possible for the UK Government to intervene directly.
“Even though RBS is primarily owned by taxpayers, the way the rescue package was set up in 2008 means that taxpayers have no say in the way the bank is run.
“RBS should not be allowed to walk away from communities, and I will be putting all my effort into making them understand the importance of local banks to rural communities.”
Six of the Borders’ nine RBS branches – at Selkirk, Hawick, Melrose, Jedburgh, Duns and Eyemouth – face being shut down.
That means the only branches left in the region would be those at Kelso, Galashiels and Peebles.
Selkirk’s branch is scheduled to shut in May next year, and the other five Borders banks facing the axe are lined up to follow suit the month after.