MPs voice ur­gent ap­peal to save Royal Bank branches

Firm un­der­tak­ing independent re­view to visit Barra and In­ver­aray

The Oban Times - - NEWS - by Sandy Neil sneil@oban­times.co.uk

A con­sul­ta­tion on the clo­sure of RBS bank branches in In­ver­aray and Castle­bay on Barra will visit those ar­eas next week and lo­cal MPs are urg­ing peo­ple to make their con­cerns known.

The Royal Bank of Scot­land is clos­ing 52 branches in Scot­land this year, in­clud­ing Camp­bel­town, Mal­laig and Rothe­say, but granted a stay of ex­e­cu­tion to 10 branches in­clud­ing In­ver­aray, Castle­bay and Kyle of Lochalsh, un­til the end of 2018.

Ear­lier this year MPs on the Scot­tish Af­fairs Com­mit­tee called on the tax­payer-con­trolled bank to post­pone the clo­sures for six months for an independent re­view to ‘en­sure they are not be­ing set up to fail’.

RBS com­mis­sioned an independent study by busi­ness ad­vis­ers John­ston Carmichael, which will make a rec­om­men­da­tion to RBS on whether the banks should re­main open or not.

They are vis­it­ing In­ver­aray, Barra and South Uist next week to dis­cuss lo­cal con­cerns about the clo­sures, be­fore com­plet­ing their re­view in Septem­ber.

The re­view team will be at the RBS branch in Castle­bay on Mon­day Au­gust 6 and In­ver­aray on Wed­nes­day Au­gust 8 to meet with lo­cal res­i­dents on an ap­point­ment ba­sis.

West­ern Isles MP An­gus Bren­dan Mac­Neil said: ‘They have the power, frankly, to keep the banks open, and this makes it im­por­tant that every­one who has a case to keep it open makes sure that case is heard by John­ston Carmichael.

‘I would en­cour­age peo­ple to get in touch with them to make an ap­point­ment or to sub­mit feed­back by email or let­ter.

‘The case to keep the Barra branch open is very strong and we also need to re­sume nor­mal hours at Lochs­bois­dale, but we need to spell it out for John­ston Carmichael.

‘They have the power to keep the branch open or not and RBS says it will be bound by its de­ci­sion.

‘I would en­cour­age every­one who has an in­ter­est, whether large or small, from the point of view of an­nual crofters cheques from lamb sales to daily busi­nesses, or any char­i­ties, please get in­volved. Your voice is very im­por­tant at this stage to keep bank­ing ser­vices on Barra.’

Ar­gyll and Bute MP Bren­dan O’Hara is urg­ing all res­i­dents of Ar­gyll and Bute to en­gage in the branch con­sul­ta­tion for the pro­posed clo­sure of In­ver­aray RBS, the last bank in the town.

Mr O’Hara said: ‘It is ab­so­lutely vi­tal res­i­dents speak to the con­sul­tants to make their views clear on the dev­as­tat­ing im­pact the clo­sure of the only bank left in the town will have.

‘It is un­ac­cept­able that a bank, 73 per cent of which is tax­payer-owned, is al­lowed to close the only bank left in town. This comes at a time when the lo­cal tourism in­dus­try is boom­ing. RBS’s pro­posal con­tra­dicts ev­ery­thing the lo­cal author­ity, Ar­gyll and Bute Council, and the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment are do­ing to boost ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties such as In­ver­aray.

‘The tide is turn­ing in favour of ru­ral Ar­gyll and Bute and, just as we’re on the cusp of re­viv­ing our prospects, RBS’s pro­posal is a po­ten­tial body-blow to the town. We need to speak out now. Af­ter the bailout RBS re­ceived from each of us as tax­pay­ers 10 years ago, its ac­tions now, at this time, are a grotesque breach of con­fi­dence.

‘I am fu­ri­ous at RBS’s lack of con­sid­er­a­tion for our con­stituen­cies well-be­ing, and we need each and ev­ery one of you to make your views known to John­ston Carmichael and make sure they are left in no doubt about the depth of feel­ing about this pro­posal.’

To book an ap­point­ment phone 01224 259 353.

To give your views to John­ston Carmichael, you can email RBSbranchre­view@jcca.co.uk; fill in an on­line ques­tion­naire at www.jcca. co.uk/rbsbranchre­view; or by writ­ing to: The RBS Re­view Team, John­ston Carmichael LLP, 29 Al­byn Place, Aberdeen, AB10 1YL.

‘The case to keep the Barra branch open is very strong but we need to spell it out’

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