Borders MSP Christine Grahame has hit out at the Royal Bank of Scotland’s claim that post offices can fill the gap left left by the five branches in the region it is shutting, branding it “insulting and ill informed”.
The Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP has slammed suggestions made by RBS bosses that customers affected by closures can just go to post offices instead and has also written to the bank’s chief executive, Ross McEwan, to voice her anger.
Speaking after raising the issue at last Thursday’s general question time at the Scottish Parliament, Ms Grahame said: “At present I have four branches of RBS in my constituency – Peebles, Galashiels, Melrose, which faces an uncertain future, and Penicuik, which will be closing next month.
“Particularly in rural communities the option of travelling to the next nearest branch is simply not viable for many.
“RBS is failing these communities.
“As for post offices being used as an alternative, as suggested by Ross McEwan, in my constituency alone we have seen Innerleithen, Earlston and Newtongrange post offices closed recently.
“Additionally, communities such as Clovenfords, Fountainhall, Heriot or Broughton are reliant solely on mobile post offices with limited hours.
“Even where post offices are available, I do not believe they can offer a viable alternative to face-to-face banking.
“Often post offices are in busy shops with limited privacy and, as talented as the post office staff are, I do not believe they would have the same expertise as the local banking staff RBS is currently making redundant.
“Many people are still dependent on high street services, and this is a lifeline service for some.
“The claim that customers are opting for online banking is, in part, a consequence of closures.
“This option is not practicable for businesses lodging cash takings or in particular some elderly or vulnerable people who are not too content with online.”
Melrose’s RBS branch has been given a stay of execution until the end of the year, but Duns and Selkirk’s have already shut, and they will be followed by those at Eyemouth on Monday, June 11; Hawick on Thursday, June 14; and Jedburgh on Monday, June 18.
They are among 52 branches being shut nationwide.