Shock and anger at Kirkcaldy bank closure plans

The RBS in Kirkcaldy High Street
The RBS in Kirkcaldy High Street

News that the Royal Bank of Scotland, an institution on Kirkcaldy High Street for decades, is to close in October has been met with anger and dismay.

While the larger branch on the town’s Rosslyn Street will remain, the long-standing High Street branch will close on October 4.

The news of the closure of five branches throughout Fife – others include Cupar, Leven, Anstruther and Cowdenbeath – was announced by the bank today, with the huge increase in mobile and online banking given as the reason.

It said that transactions within the Kirkcaldy branch had declined by 42 per cent since 2011.

David Torrance, Kirkcaldy’s MSP, said he was concerned that it would be the elderly who would be most seriously affected by the closure.

“I’m very disappointed that the RBS has decided to close its branch in the High Street,” he said.

“It has been a vital part of the town centre for so long.

“We hear a lot about online banking, but there is a generation that does not use online banking. Where are they supposed to go?”

Councillor Kenny Selbie, who represents the Kirkcaldy central ward on Fife Council, said: “My initial reaction is one of anger that this decision was imposed upon with no discussion that would allow us to understand the context behind it.

“My hope is that Fife Council would look to speak to RBS to try and understand why they’ve decided to close this branch.

“It’s of personal significance to me as I’m an RBS customer and I use that branch. To me it certainly seems that there’s plenty of footfall there.

“I understand that there’s a big change in the way that banking is going with more and more people using it digitally, but the branch certainly seems busy and is a key part of the High Street.

“I would like more information about this closure and more discussion. I’m angry that the first we were informed about it was through the release of a statement,”

Bill Harvey, manager of Kirkcaldy4All, added: “Obviously we are very disappointed to see anything going from the High Street, and this bank has been there for as long as I can remember.

“It is disappointing to see a bank the size of the RBS shutting down in a town the size of Kirkcaldy, and I just wonder why the people of Kirkcaldy are being penalised.”

“We are plugging the holes in the High Street as quickly as we can, but banks are notoriously difficult to shift.”

And a customer of the bank for 40 years, who did not wish to be named, added: “It is alright for people with cars who can go up to Rosslyn Street, but my brother who is disabled and in a wheelchair comes here regularly and the staff all know him and are able to help.

“I never use internet banking because I don’t trust it, and there are a lot of elderly customers who won’t.

“Banks are going to lose the personal touch, which still means a lot to some people.”

A statement issued by the RBS said: “The way people choose to bank with us has changed radically over the last few years. Between 2010 and 2015, mobile and online transactions have increased by over 400 per cent and mobile transactions alone have increased by 1,350 per cent.”

And it outlined measures being taken to help customers with online banking, including: educating them on how to use these channels securely and simply, with help from new digital experts; enabling them to contact the bank by phone, via web-chat and social media and poviding a range of banking services through the Post Office.

It also said tha there are 38 free to use ATMs within one mile of the High Street branch.