Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, has strongly criticised the Royal Bank of Scotland for ‘failing to provide any real justification or the most basic statistics’ used in making their decision to close the popular local branch in Renfrew.
RBS recently announced it was to close 62 of its branches in Scotland. The plans are set to have a damaging impact on people across the country – particularly older and vulnerable customers who depend on staff and services in their local branches and don’t have the luxury of accessing services online.
Last Friday, Mr Newlands met with representatives from the Royal Bank of Scotland to discuss the recently announced closure of the bank’s popular branch in Renfrew town centre, providing them with an opportunity to detail their rationale for closing this busy branch.
Mr Newlands attended the meeting with Renfrew North and Braehead Councillor John Shaw, Gordon Burgess from Renfrew Development Trust and Effie McGachie from Renfrew Community Council.
During the meeting, bank bosses from RBS were asked to provide more information behind their decision to close the branch and were questioned on their claim that the branch has a very low number of regular users. The closure of the Renfrew branch would leave Paisley and Renfrewshire North with only one RBS branch located in Paisley, which is not easily accessible to people using public transport. Mr Newlands also asked why the Renfrew branch was chosen for closure when it was only refurbished recently.
During the meeting, RBS was also questioned on what plans they have to help vulnerable customers who will no longer be able to use the branch in Renfrew to access online banking.
Gavin Newlands after the meeting, said: “This was undoubtedly one of the most frustrating meetings that I‘ve had since my election in 2015. RBS promised me that they would attend this meeting and present their case as to why they made the decision to close this popular branch, including providing detailed statistics on the number of customers and businesses using this bank each week. RBS couldn’t even do this and their justification amounted to asking us to trust their case to close this bank branch.
“I am sorry but I don’t trust their reasoning and neither do the people of Renfrew. I’m a customer of this bank and I know first-hand how busy this branch is, whenever I go in to the bank I have to queue and I know that isn’t an uncommon experience for many of their customers.
“RBS is a publicly owned brank which was bailed out by the taxpayer, and it’s completely unacceptable for them to attempt to bail out of our town centres. I am collecting signatures to a parliamentary petition which will be presented to the House of Commons urging both the Treasury and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to intervene to stop the publically owned RBS from closing the branch in Renfrew. We need as many local people to sign this petition as possible to help save this important local branch. I am delighted that many of the local Renfrew businesses are supporting my efforts.
“RBS is 73% owned by the UK taxpayer and yet it seems to have taken no account of the public interest in these closures. I will continue to campaign to try to keep the branch open and to ensure that any closures that go ahead are properly justified and measures are put in place to support elderly and vulnerable customers who are not able to use online banking.”
Gordon Burgess from the Renfrew Development Trust, said: “The RBS branch in Renfrew is vitally important to local people as well as businesses in the town centre. If the RBS want to close this important bank, then they need to be upfront and honest with local people – that’s the very least that we deserve. Currently, the RBS haven’t explained their rationale behind this decision and that’s unacceptable. RBS have a responsibility towards the communities that they serve, particularly as it was the taxpayer who helped bail them out. I support all efforts to help save this important bank branch.”
Photo: Gavin Newlands MP with Cllr John Shawn, Gordon Burgess and Effie McGachie from Renfrew Community Council