Blow to heart of town as RBS quits Carluke

Carluke landmark for over 100 years, the town's Royal Bank of Scotlnd branch, about to close. Pic: Sarah Peters
Carluke landmark for over 100 years, the town's Royal Bank of Scotlnd branch, about to close. Pic: Sarah Peters

Another major blow has been dealt to Carluke town centre with the announcement of the closure of its Royal Bank of Scotland branch.

Following hard in the heels of the news that the town’s main council office, the Kirkton Street Q&A Centre, is to close in June, RBS is quitting its branch at Carluke Cross in August.

For over a century it has stood at the very heart of the town, built as a symbol of Carluke’s Victorian expansion and growing wealth.

Now, say RBS bosses, it is surplus to requirements, its transactions having dropped by a quarter in the past five years due to online banking and increasing automation.

The bank, still mostly in British Government ownership and recently announcing major losses, has described it as “a difficult decision”.

It has also announced a scaling back of its Carnwath branch opening times.

Said a RBS spokesman: “We will be writing to customers who use the branches in advance of both the closure and the changes to opening hours, and we will also display posters in the branch in the run up.

“Between now and the changes, we will engage with our customers, local businesses and the local community to make sure they are aware of the alternative ways of accessing their banking in the local area, and to answer any questions they might have.

“There are more ways of banking with us than ever before and our customers are increasingly choosing to use different ways to bank for their simple transactions. As a result, the number of transactions taking place at Carluke branch has dropped by 24 per cent since 2011.

“We are committed to following the UK Government protocol on branch closures, and we have made the decision following careful consideration of a wide range of factors including branch usage and the alternative ways our customers can bank locally.

“These include eight free to use ATMs within a mile of the branch, other branches like the nearest in Wishaw, is 4.9 miles away and the Post Office, 170 yards away where our customers can pay money in, take money out, check balances and business customers can get coinage.”

The news comes as Carluke, through bodies like the Development Trust, has been making great efforts to recover from decades of economic decline.

The RBS decision angered the newly-re-elected Clydesdale MSP Aileen Campbell who said: “This is grim news for Carluke’s town centre.

“We need to continue to work to attract people to the High Street and this latest closure will only make that more difficult.

“It comes on the back of other bank closures in Lanark and changes to opening hours in Carnwath.

“Given the substantial stake we all have in RBS, I don’t believe it’s acceptable for them to be offering Clydesdale such a raw deal.

“That’s why I’ve written to the Royal Bank of Scotland CEO, asking him to reconsider and have also raised it with the UK Government.”