North-east politicians have joined forces to urge the Royal Bank of Scotland to reconsider its decision to close a string of local branches.
RBS intends to shut its outlets in Westhill, Stonehaven and Banchory – forcing customers to travel to Aberdeen and even as far as Montrose to carry out transactions.
In Moray, Buckie and Forres will also cease business as part of the firm’s closure of 158 branches across the UK.
And yesterday, concerns were raised that the changes will affect “the elderly, disabled and less well-off” the worst, and create problems for those who do not use online banking.
The Banchory branch is due to shut on September 28, the Stonehaven one on October 2 and Westhill on October 3.
Westhill and District Tory councillor Ron McKail said a petition would soon be launched against the proposals for the town’s “busy” branch.
He added: “It has come as a surprise to a lot of people in Westhill. They have actually spent money on a refurbishment of the bank a couple of years ago.
“We are now faced with our accounts transferring to Queens Cross, which is extremely inconvenient.
“The elderly are being inconvenienced, those who don’t have access to online banking are disappointed as will be many businesses.
“It is extremely concerning.”
Party colleague, north-east MSP Liam Kerr, has written to RBS to discuss the closure of the Stonehaven branch and said the needs of locals in Stonehaven may not be met with online banking and mobile banking vans.
He added: “I am particularly concerned about the impact this could have on the elderly, disabled and less well-off in the community who rely on the local branch.
“I find this unacceptable for a state-owned bank that has required so much public support over the years.
“I hope that management at RBS will reconsider this decision.”
An RBS spokesman said its TechXperts team had been put together to help customers come to terms with mobile and online banking.
He added: “Since 2011 we have seen the number of transactions decline by 33% in the Banchory branch, 30% in the Stonehaven branch and 39% in the Westhill branch.
“These customers are actively choosing to bank in different ways.
“We are communicating with our customers affected by the closure and proactively contacting vulnerable and regular branch customers.”