Royal Bank attacked for deserting Forth

Closing...Royal Bank of Scotland in Forth  (Pic Sarah Peters)
Closing...Royal Bank of Scotland in Forth (Pic Sarah Peters)

Shock and disappointment have greeted the news that the Royal Bank of Scotand is to close its Forth branch.

The bank - still mainly in UK Government ownership - has announced that it is to close the Main Street branch on November 24.

To soften the blow, the bank issued a statement on “alternative ways for people in the area to continue to bank with us; we have reached an agreement with the local Post Office, which is yards away from the branch, so that our customers can check their balance, deposit and withdraw funds and business customers can get coinage.

“We intend to retain our ATM in the local community and are introducing a Mobile Branch service.”

Consultations on the timing and frequency of that service are to take place.

The bank claims that transactions at the Forth branch had fallen by a quarter since 2011 and there are now only 42 regular customers.

Political reaction was swift, the SNPs South Lanarkshire councillor for the area, Vivienne Shaw saying the day after the announcement: “I have had constituents from Forth contacting me about this already.

“This closure will further disadvantage services to a rural community and is a great loss for all users.

“I will monitor the alternative services now being put in place and hope the public consultation for a mobile service is adequately conducted and the views of all residents are considered, especially the frail and elderly who find travelling outwith the area a problem.”

Her Labour counterpart, Councillor Catherine McClymont said: “Although disappointed to learn that RBS have made the decision to close the branch, I am comforted by the various measures they have put in place to ensure a smooth transition.

“I can understand that the visits to banks these days are diminishing with modern technology.

“Unfortunately cutbacks are sometimes necessary if the business case is not justified. I am sure the decision was not made lightly. I presume, however, that the staff will be relocated elsewhere as that is a concern if staff were to be made redundant.”

Said independent councillor Ed Archer: “It seems typical of the way that corporate companies act prior to a sell-off by getting rid of uneconomic services though they are an important community asset. Indeed, having branches such as Forth in their economic portfolio actually makes sense in so far as it reduces tax liability .

“Another point is that the nation saved RBS during the financial crash, a process in which the people of Forth played their part. Maybe it is time that RBS put something back into the community.”