March 28, 2017
DUMFRIES and Galloway MP Richard Arkless has said that the closure of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Newton Stewart will will be a ‘devastating blow to the local community’.
The bank is set to close on 9th October due to a “dramatic shift” in the way that customers use the bank – with more and more people choosing to bank online or through aps on mobile devices.
RBS have said that between 2010 and 2015, mobile and online transactions increased by over 400% and mobile transactions alone have increased by 1,350%. Since 2011 RBS say they have seen the number of transactions in the Newton Stewart branch decline by 20%.
Commenting Mr Arkless said: “I am extremely disappointed to hear that Newton Stewart will lose their RBS branch. The announcement will mean job losses for the town and leave a major building on the High Street empty.
“Banks bring people into towns and they help keep high streets alive by providing a commercial centre. The closure of any bank has a huge impact on entire communities reducing footfall and damaging the trade of surrounding businesses – in rural communities such as ours the impact is particularly acute.”
He continued: “Bank closures are happening so frequently now and in each case the bank attributes the closure to an increase in online banking but it’s not always easy for people to make the transition to digital banking. For many people in Dumfries and Galloway, they simply can’t get online to access this service and members of our older generation often do not have the internet skills necessary to use the online services.
“I want to see high street banks working with mobile providers to fill in some internet not-spots an have held several meetings with key banking decision makers in Westminster to explore this idea.”
Mr Arkless added: “I will be contacting RBS to find out how they will be accommodating the needs of their more vulnerable, elderly customers many of whom will have banked the same way, at the same branch all their lives. It is essential that RBS do all that they can to support the customers who have supported them for so many years.
“I’ve had meetings with other banks recently to encourage them to develop more innovative and tangible ways of assisting rural communities they leave. They need to understand that some people can’t get online and can’t easily get into town. They can’t leave people in rural areas to bank online when rural areas struggle to get online. They should be investing in better mobile signals, or indeed mobile banks.
“I’ll be meeting with RBS to suggest they work with other Banks like the Clydesdale to deliver legacy programs which can lessen the impact of these closures in a meaningful way. I’ll also remind them they are public owned and it is the public they are letting down here.”