Labour MSP Richard Leonard has branded plans to close RBS branches in the north as ‘economic vandalism’ against rural communities.
The Scottish Labour leader said he was concerned about the shrinking number of access point available to residents in the Highlands and the impact it would have on people living within rural communities.
The MSP was amongst dozens of protestors taking part in a demonstration outside the RBS branch in Aviemore yesterday, earmarked for closure within weeks.
Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard MSP said: “This is not simply a question of economics and politics, it is a question of what kind of society we want.
“There is a very clear political dimension to this because what this is about is not the economic cost of running branches in Scotland, this is about Philip Hammond fattening up the Royal Bank of Scotland to sell to his friends in the city of London.”
RBS has put forward plans to close 62 branches in Scotland, although bosses have granted a temporary reprieve to 10 of these, allowing them to remain open until the end of 2018 for an independent review on their long-term future.
Unite Assistant Scottish Secretary Mary Alexander added: “The nearest RBS to this – as Grantown is closing as well – is Inverness which is 29 miles away and not an easy road ride and lots of people can’t afford to go 30 miles away.
“It is leaving people very vulnerable and there is also the point that internet banking is very patchy and not very good.
“There is no thought by the RBS about the impact on people with different needs, no thought about businesses and how it impacts them, particularly where last banking towns go. The research shows the businesses very quickly go after, the economy goes down the drain and those communities that were just managing to survive will just fizzle away. It’s awful.”
RBS spokesman said: “More and more of our customers are choosing to do their everyday banking online or on mobile.
“The decision to close branches is a difficult one and we understand this change can be hard for some customers. We are fully focussed on engaging with our customers and communities before these branches close to help them understand all the ways they can bank with us.”
The protest came as plans by RBS to cut its two-day mobile service in half in Dufftown were scrapped.
The service was due to be reduced to one day a week in May due to the mobile banking vans being under additional pressure following branch closures.