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More than 1,000 representations made to RBS branch review team

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A review of 10 closure-threatened RBS branches was launched in June after the bank appointed accountancy firm Johnston Carmichael to conduct the study.

The banks were selected for the temporary reprieve because they were among the last remaining branches in each community.

The group said it would examine the suitability of alternative banking options in each area, assess the data used by RBS and study any changes in use of branches since they were initially earmarked for closure at the end of last year.

Customers of the banks – including at Beauly, Castlebay, Inveraray, Kyle of Lochalsh and Tongue – were urged to give their views on the proposed closures.

The review team revealed yesterday that it received more than 1,000 representations during the study.

It also spoke to a “significant number of branch customers, bank staff, elected representatives, and groups representing a range of interests including those customers with disabilities and considered most vulnerable”.

The auditors visited nine of the locations twice, but only travelled once to Castlebay on the island of Barra, due to “logistical reasons”.

Informal visits were made to the majority of branches between June 29 and July 10, followed by formal visits to each during August.

However, local MSP Kate Forbes said yesterday that the review team did not get to view the mobile bank in Beauly – because it had “broken down” on the day of a visit.

The conclusion of the review was that branches at Castlebay and Biggar in South Lanarkshire should remain open, but those at Comrie, Beauly, Douglas, Gretna, Inveraray, Kyle, Tongue and Melrose should be shut.

Those eight are now expected to close in January.

Johnston Carmichael chief executive Sandy Manson said: “We understand there will be considerable disappointment in those communities where we have recommended that a branch should close.

“However, in most cases where we have recommended that a branch close, we have also suggested additional steps which we believe the bank should take to enhance the quality and accessibility of the alternative banking facilities available.”

He added: “One of the most important factors we considered in our review was the suitability of accessible alternatives to the services currently provided by the local branch.

“Each branch had its own unique set of circumstances and this meant that we had to carefully and sensitively consider each branch on a case-by-case basis.”

The Unite trade union said it was “nothing but a rubber-stamp of RBS management decisions”, however, and demanded urgent talks with the bank’s bosses last night.

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