Patricia Gibson MP has called on Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to halt its plans for mass branch closures across Scotland, after RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan admitted, in a leaked email to staff, that closing local branches was a ‘difficult choice’ that would be ‘painful’ for customers, and hundreds of local staff who stand to lost their jobs.
The email also reveals the predominantly state-owned company has found the backlash from communities in the media ‘very uncomfortable reading.’ Under current RBS plans, 62 branches across Scotland will close, including Kilbirnie, Kilwinning and Saltcoats, while 13 Scottish towns will lose their only bank.
Patricia Gibson has called on the Prime Minister to intervene as the majority shareholder.
The SNP has criticised the misleading figures being used by RBS to defend the closures. RBS has refused requests to publish the total number of transactions for each branch, instead only publishing the number of customers who visit their local branch every single week of the year.
Commenting, Patricia said:
“RBS now admit that axing 62 branches across Scotland will be painful to customers, including many who will lose their only local bank. It will also be painful to the hundreds of RBS branch staff across local communities who stand to lose their jobs.
“This programme of mass branch closures is not just a ‘difficult’ and ‘painful’ choice, it is the wrong choice, based on misleading figures and a flawed case. If it goes ahead it will have huge consequences for local people and businesses, so it is no surprise that RBS have found the scrutiny and backlash from communities uncomfortable.
“The SNP in North Ayrshire and across Scotland will continue to campaign to keep RBS branches open, and I will continue to press the UK government to do the right thing, and take action as the majority shareholder.
“When George Osborne was Chancellor he intervened to remove Stephen Hester as Chief Executive. If the UK Government can remove the bank’s head it can ensure our communities do not lose banking services.
“Tax payers collectively saved RBS in the 2008 bail out. This was not so that RBS would turn its back on our communities. RBS has a duty to its customers, they must not repay them by closure and the Tories cannot just turn their back. The taxpayer owns 72.9% of RBS. The Prime Minister must haul Mr McEwan into Downing Street and tell him that these closures are not on.”
RBS Chief Ross McEwan says bank closure plan painful for customers (Herald, 22 January):