Anger as RBS close Girvan branch

The RBS Girvan branch.
The RBS Girvan branch.

RBS has announced that its Girvan branch will close in six months time, prompting anger across Carrick.

The announcement came as the bank, 70 per cent owned by the government, posted annual losses of £7 billion last month. Thirty RBS branches are to close around the UK.

No redundancies have been announced by the company. Carrick’s MSP and MP have demanded an urgent meeting with RBS over the closures.

Carrick MSP Jeane Freeman said: “RBS think that the offer of mobile banking somehow compensates for their decision. But when they shut their branch in Dalmellington, their replacement mobile banking service has no disabled access, so customers with mobility issues are forced to do their banking in the car park. Not only that but they point blank refuse to take any steps to improve even this meagre service.”

Carrick MP Corri Wilson said: “Yet again, the state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland is letting down rural communities.

“By using the same old excuse that closures are driven by increased use in technology, RBS fails to understand the challenges that its customers in outlying areas face when attempting to access digital technology.

“Many of the people affected by this closure will struggle to use online banking due to inadequate broadband coverage, and will already have been hit by closures in Dalmellington and Maybole.”

Council candidate Alec Clark said: “Some of these villages have no broadband connection to speak of and are dependent on being able to use a full counter service branch.

“Many older residents do not have computer access and again are dependent on accessing their local branch including those who have their state pension paid in to the bank.”

Ada Galloway, Federation of Small Businesses chair in Ayrshire, said: “A number of smaller businesses in South Ayrshire, particularly shops, cafes and restaurants, will be hit by these closures as they tend to handle cash and rely on branches for deposits.

“With the Girvan, Prestwick and Troon branches all closing, cash handling business owners will find themselves driving long distances in order to bank their takings. This presents both a personal security risk and takes them away from their businesses for long periods of time, thus harming their productivity.”

South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “I will be writing to RBS’s chief executive to ask him to reconsider the move and have submitted a motion to parliament calling on MSP from across party divides to join together and call on RBS to rethink this decision.”

A spokesman for RBS said: “The way people choose to bank with us has changed radically over the last few years. Between 2010 and 2015, mobile and online transactions have increased by over 400% and mobile transactions alone have increased by 1,350%.

“Since 2011 we have seen the number of transactions in the Girvan branch decline by 17%, 8% in Mauchline, 20% in Newton Stewart, 32% in Prestwick, 34% in Troon and 5% in Cumnock.

“These customers are actively choosing to bank in different ways, with 52% of customers choosing to use our digital banking options in Girvan. In Mauchline this is 53.8%, 61.6% in Prestwick, 60.1% in Troon and 56.4% in Cumnock.”

“We are communicating with our customers affected by the closure and proactively contacting vulnerable and regular branch customers. We have listened closely to feedback from local communities and have extended the time between announcing our decision and the branch closure to six months. This has been done in order to ensure our customers have time to consider the right banking options for them.

“We are committed to ensuring our customers and communities are able to continue accessing quality banking services. As part of this, we have created a new role - our Community Banker - who will serve the local area and provide customers with personal assistance and support accessing the right banking options for their needs, as well as help with achieving their financial plans and goals.

“We know that not all of our customers are comfortable and familiar with using online or mobile banking, so we have created a new specialist taskforce of Digital Experts who will be dedicated to supporting our customers with training and support with digital skills.

“We are following the Access to Banking protocol and we have made the decision after careful consideration of a wide range of factors, including regular branch usage and the alternative ways our customers can bank with us.”