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RBS reverses its decision to close ten bank branches

The firm will keep the Scottish branches open until at least the end of the year.

RBS: Closures due to digital banking.
RBS: Closures due to digital banking. Yui Mok / PA

The Royal Bank of Scotland has reversed its decision to close ten of its bank branches this year.

The firm said it will keep the Scottish branches open until at least the end of the year.

It comes after the organisation revealed plans to close 62 branches across the country, including some in remote and rural communities.

Branches in Biggar, Beauly, Castlebay/Barra, Comrie, Douglas, Gretna, Inveraray, Melrose, Kyle and Tongue will stay open until the end of the year.

State-owned RBS previously said the closures were due to a rise in the number of customers using digital banking.

A leading trade union described the bank's decision as merely a "stay of execution".

The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford had been in direct talks with the bank over the weekend after accusing the Conservatives of "failing to lift a finger" to save the branches.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1407629-ian-blackford-bypassed-pm-in-rbs-branch-closure-talks/ | default

Blackford was accused by Scottish Conservative MP Colin Clark of "undermining" the all-party Scottish affairs committee at Westminster and "trying to get a headline" out of the situation.

The SNP MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber tweeted on Tuesday: "I am delighted at the RBS announcement saving ten branches, including Kyle and Beauly in my own constituency."

At the end of 2018, an independent review will be carried out into whether the ten RBS branches are still viable, the bank said.

It added that it had "listened to the concerns of customers".

Conservative MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, John Lamont, commented: "Today's announcement from RBS is not good enough.

"It will mean that branches in Selkirk, Jedburgh, Duns, Hawick and Eyemouth will close and Melrose will be given only a temporary reprieve.

"The campaign against these closures must go on."

He added in another tweet: "Astonishing reaction from Ian Blackford and the SNP.

"Have they actually read what RBS have announced? They are doing laps of honour despite dozens of branches being shut across Scotland.

"How many 'saved' branches will still be open this time next year?"

https://stv.tv/news/features/1403526-banks-what-is-behind-the-rising-number-of-branch-closures/ | default

The Unite trade union called the announcement a "stay of execution" and urged the bank to make clear what would happen to the other branches that have been earmarked for closure.

It also demanded a moratorium on branch closures north and south of the border.

Unite deputy Scottish secretary Mary Alexander said: "We believe that RBS has been forced to offer these concessions because of the campaign run by Unite and the local communities to expose the devastation of what the closures mean for communities and jobs.

"But if it's good enough to make these concessions, what are the bank prepared to do about the other 52 communities facing the axe?"

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: "We welcome the news that RBS has listened to local communities and has decided to keep some branches open, for the time being at least.

"However, there will still be many communities and RBS staff concerned about their future.

"RBS has put forward a mix of positive measures to support their customers and communities across Scotland but has made it clear that this decision is only guaranteed for a year."

He continued: "The issue of local branch closures in our rural communities is a concern far wider than RBS and a sector-wide solution needs to be found that helps keep our communities alive.

"This is the first step towards developing a long term, sustainable banking service for all communities and the Scottish Government will continue to work with all banks to ensure that essential services remain accessible to all."

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