MSP speaks out after region loses 26 bank branches in one year

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker has spoken out on bank closures after the loss of 26 branches in the region.

“The Royal Bank of Scotland used to say that it would not close the last bank in town,” said Mrs Baker.

“However we can now see a whole host of towns and villages have lost all their high street banks.”

The MSP is among politicians backing The Courier’s Save Our Banks campaign.

At the start of December, it was announced that the Royal Bank of Scotland would be closing 62 branches in Scotland. This includes eight across Mid Scotland and Fife – Aberfeldy, Alloa, Bridge of Allan, Comrie, Dunblane, Kinross, Perth and Pitlochry.

In March, the bank also announced closures in Anstruther, Cowdenbeath, Cupar, Dalgety Bay, Kirkcaldy and Leven.

Bank of Scotland has also announced two rounds of bank closures this year, with the most recent coming in November. These included Alva, Bridge of Allan, Lochgelly and Stirling.

Clydesdale Bank announced the closure of branches in Alloa, Leven, Rosyth and Tillicoulty at the start of the year.

And TSB announced closures over the course of the year including Bridge of Allan, Cardenden, Dunblane and Lochgelly.

Mrs Baker said: “Many of these branches, whether it was RBS, TSB, Clydesdale or Bank of Scotland, served rural communities and towns, and were often the main focal point of the high street and a vital source of employment.

“These banks also supported many local businesses that will now have to travel further afield to do their day to day business banking.

“For the region to have lost 26 banks in the course of one year is simply unacceptable. This will hit those who do not, or cannot, use internet banking the hardest.

“Many elderly customers largely rely on their local branch and there are still significant parts of the region struggling for internet access, with some parts in the bottom 20% of the UK for download speed.

“RBS and Bank of Scotland both must think again on their latest round of closures and save our local banks.”

The Courier contacted RBS for comment but received no response.

However, a spokesman for Bank of Scotland said: “We have made the difficult decision to close some of our Bank of Scotland branches between February and April next year. This is due to the changing ways our customers choose to bank with us, which has resulted in branches being used less often.

“We remain committed to our branches across Bank of Scotland and expect to continue to have the biggest branch network in Scotland.

“We know that customers continue to value the branch experience for key moments like opening an account or buying a home, alongside using our other channels such as online, digital and phone. We are making a significant investment in revitalising our branch network and shaping it to meet the needs of customers.”