Richard Leonard calls for Scottish Parliament vote in fight against bank closures

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Richard Leonard

The leader of Scottish Labour is seeking Holyrood’s support against bank closures.

Richard Leonard is hoping the Scottish Parliament’s influence will force the UK Government to intervene in the RBS decision.

The taxpayer-owned bank last week announced it is closing 62 branches in Scotland – eight of them in Courier Country.

Earlier, the Bank of Scotland said 49 of its local sites would shut across the country, including two in Tayside and Fife.

If accepted, the motion is likely to lead to a clear expression of parliament’s will against the closures, piling pressure on the UK Government to react.

The Courier is campaigning against the closures, which threaten to cut off vulnerable customers and make life even more difficult for small businesses.

Mr Leonard said: “This announcement by the Royal Bank of Scotland will damage high streets the length and breadth of Scotland. It will lead to the direct loss of more than a hundred of jobs – and the indirect loss of many more.

“It will hurt the elderly and the vulnerable, who depend on local banks the most.

“All of this has been decided by bankers determined to cut costs and boost profits – and despite their promise in 2010 that they would not close branches if they were the last bank in town.”

He added: “I hope MSPs will join with me in adding their voices to the chorus calling for RBS branches to be saved.”

Last week, the SNP’s business minister Paul Wheelhouse wrote to the Treasury calling for them to “establish and enforce a guaranteed minimum level of service provision for essential banking services”.

A Treasury spokeswoman said: “The decision to open and close branches is a commercial decision taken by the management team of each bank.

“The Government does not intervene in these decisions.”

She added they understand the impact the closures can told banks to keep customers informed of the options available for continued access to banking.”

RBS says that customers who are
losing their branch will still be able to perform some tasks locally at mobile banks, post offices and cash machines.