RBS to close several branches across Scotland

<p>The bank calls the move a “difficult decision” and will offer customers alternative ways of using services.</p>

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has announced it will be closing several of its branches this year.

RBS said that it was a "difficult decision" to shut the high-street locations, but that alternative ways of using their banking services will still be available to customers in the areas affected by the closures.

Some of the locations to be shut down include Brae in Shetland, Goldenacre and Tollcross in Edinburgh and West Blackhall Street in Greenock.

The BBC reports that branches in Lochinver, Lybster and in the Highlands and Stromness in Orkney will also be closing.

RBS is the only bank still operating in the town of Invergordon – and that branch will be shutting down too.

In a statement, RBS said that they will be writing about the closure of the branches to all customers who use the banks – and that they will be providing further details "well in advance of the closure date". Display posters will also be up in branches to help spread the word among customers.

"We will work hard to engage with all of our customers, local businesses and the wider local community between now and the closure date to ensure they are aware of the alternative ways of accessing their banking with us in the local area, and to answer any questions they might have," the statement explained.

The bank cited a variety of reasons for closing the selected branches – including a decreased number of transactions.

Closure concerns

RBC has received criticism from Highland councillors and MSPs over the move.

Maxine Smith, councillor for Cromarty Firth said she found the decision "very concerning."

She explained that many people do not have access to online banking.

"In areas of social deprivation, such as Invergordon, people really need to be able to have physical access to a bank without the cost and inconvenience of travelling to another town," she said.

The bank said it is committed to following UK government protocol on branch closures. "We have made the decision following careful consideration of a wide range of factors including branch usage and the alternative ways our customers can bank with us locally," it added.

RBS has recently indicated that it will start taking steps for the government to sell down its 79 per cent stake in the company. Shareholders have been asked to approve the cost of producing the documents and fees associated with the process.

On Thursday (May 21st), RBS shares closed at 354.70p – up 60p from the opening price.

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