Borders MP rallying opposition to bank closure plans

The Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Galashiels.
The Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Galashiels.

Borders MP John Lamont is rallying opposition to the Royal Bank of Scotland’s plans to shut two-thirds of its remaining branches in the region ahead of an inquiry into the scheduled closures.

RBS intends closing its branches in Hawick, Selkirk, Jedburgh, Duns, Eyemouth and Melrose, plus another 56 nationwide, later this year.

That decision, attributed to customers increasingly opting to bank online instead, sparked an outcry after it was announced last month, and RBS bosses have been urged to rethink it ever since.

Mr Lamont is calling on Borderers to keep up the pressure on bank bosses to ditch their closure plans prior to an inquiry into them by the UK Government’s Scottish affairs committee.

Anyone wishing to register objections to the closures has until Wednesday, January 10, to do so at www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/scottish-affairs-committee/inquiries

The Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP and his successor as Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP, Rachael Hamilton, are also lining up a public meeting to give Borderers a chance to register their concerns, though a date and venue have yet to be decided.

Mr Lamont is running a survey on his website too to guage the extent of opposition to the closure plans. Go to www.johnlamont.org/surveys to take part.

He said: “I think that RBS has been taken aback by the level of opposition to these plans from all parts of Scotland and from all parties representing Scotland.

“For all Borderers who have been affected, there are a number of opportunities to help with the campaign against these damaging closures.

“You can write to the Scottish affairs committee or fill in my survey, and I’ll be announcing further details of a public meeting I will be arranging with my colleague Rachael Hamilton in the new year.

“Unfortunately, the UK Government is unable to intervene directly because even though RBS is primarily owned by the taxpayer, the way the rescue package was set up in 2008 means that taxpayers have little say in the commercial decisions of the bank.

“RBS should not be allowed to walk away from communities, and those affected by these closures should join me in making the bank understand the importance of local branches to rural communities.”