Politicians and unions demonstrate at RBS Kirkcaldy branch

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Politicians have joined trades unionists in a protest outside RBS’ main branch in Kirkcaldy.

The demo was staged as the bank announced profits of £752m at a time it is pursuing a policy of branch closures which have impacted on Fife communities.

RBS is 71 per cent owned by the taxpayer after a massive bail out, and this year’s figures marked a return to profit for the first time in a decade.

Lesley Laird MP and Claire Baker MSP joined members of the Unite union in a demonstration outside the RBS premises on Rosslyn Street – the bank’s main local presence after it closed its High Street branch last year.

Leo Matheson, the bank’s personal and business banking boss is due to meet with Ms Laird next week, but she wants the top man – Ross McEwan CEO – to go before a Scottish Select Affairs Committee to answer for his plans to shut 62 Scottish branches.

She said: “The public need answers as to why a 71 per cent nationally-owned bank and its CEO won’t come and explain its branch closure strategy to the Scottish Select Committee.

‘‘By granting a reprieve to 10 branches they have conceded that the strategy is up for debate, and this now needs further scrutiny – communities across Scotland deserve nothing less.

“The public also deserve to know what the chairman of that Select Committee is going to do to make that happen – and when.”

She added: “RBS has posted a profit for the first time in a decade; a £752m sum described by bank bosses as “symbolic”.

“A decision to press ahead to close branches across the country – which would save just £9.5m –at this point is galling for customers and speaks volumes about RBS’ priorities.

“Branch banking provides the glue that supports many communities, and small business here in Kirkcaldy and around the country.’’
Ms Laird said that at her meeting next week she’d be pushing for RBS to develop a wider bank strategy ‘‘which really does have the customer at its heart.”

Claire Baker MSP added: ‘‘“Workers, customers and local businesses which rely on these branches are angry that whilst those at the top continue to take home salaries ranging into the millions, locals are being hit by a bank that is still majority owned by taxpayers.

‘‘RBS must now reverse local bank closures and commit to serving our towns and villages across Fife and Scotland.”