2018 fo­cus is on lo­cal and national

Strathearn Herald - - NEWS - Luke Gra­ham MP FOR OCHIL AND SOUTH PERTHSHIRE

I would like to start 2018 by wish­ing you all a happy new year.

I was pleased to kick off the new year by hold­ing a street stall on the first week­end of 2018 in Cri­eff with Coun­cil­lor Roz McCall and Liz Smith MSP.

The street stall re­ceived an ex­cel­lent re­cep­tion, with a great num­ber of peo­ple stop­ping to speak to the team. It was also fan­tas­tic to get out and about around Cri­eff, de­liv­er­ing our lat­est up­date leaflet and catch­ing up with res­i­dents to un­der­stand their hopes and con­cerns for 2018.

It will come as no sur­prise that Brexit was a com­mon point of dis­cus­sion for many peo­ple, but by far the most talked about is­sue in the area was the pro­posed clo­sure, by the Royal Bank of Scot­land, of its branch in Com­rie.

RBS is clos­ing three branches in our con­stituency, with the two other branches be­ing in Al­loa and Kin­ross. Con­se­quently, it is some­thing I have been deeply in­volved in, and op­posed to, since the clo­sures were an­nounced.

Fol­low­ing RBS’ an­nounce­ment, a num­ber of con­stituents got in touch with me to raise their own con­cerns, par­tic­u­larly around the im­pact on lo­cal busi­nesses and travel times to the next near­est branches.

My Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive col­leagues and I met with RBS rep­re­sen­ta­tives soon after the announcements were made, where I raised your con­cerns di­rectly with the RBS rep­re­sen­ta­tives, as well as my own.

I have also writ­ten a let­ter to the trea­sury min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for the pub­liclyowned bank to lobby for re­con­sid­er­a­tion of the de­ci­sion to close the branches.

I re­main un­con­vinced by the sup­posed ne­ces­sity of the clo­sures, or by the mit­i­ga­tions RBS have pro­posed as al­ter­na­tives.

I will be meet­ing trea­sury min­is­ters this week to con­tinue to cam­paign on your be­half, to achieve the best re­sult pos­si­ble.

If you share my con­cerns about these clo­sures, please join me in Com­rie on Jan­uary 27 to sign our pe­ti­tion.

This year will be a real mix of lo­cal and national cam­paigns; con­tin­u­ing to build our in­flu­ence in West­min­ster, build­ing on the suc­cesses and ex­tra fund­ing se­cured at the bud­get, whilst work­ing with lo­cal com­mu­nity groups to pri­ori­tise in­vest­ment and sup­port­ing teams to re­duce youth un­em­ploy­ment.

Hope to see you soon.

Lob­by­ing Luke Gra­ham met with Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer Philip Ham­mond and Stephen Kerr (right) in De­cem­ber to dis­cuss the City Deal. The Ochil and South Perthshire MP has writ­ten to the trea­sury min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for RBS to lobby for a re­con­sid­er­a­tion of the de­ci­sion to close the branches iden­ti­fied by the pub­liclyowned bank and will be meet­ing min­is­ters this week to con­tinue to cam­paign on the is­sue

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