Union condemns decision by RBS to close five branches across Fife

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Unite has warned RBS to think twice about turning its back on local Fife communities.

The statement from the union comes after RBS announced a further programme of cuts which will see branches in Elie, Crail, Newburgh, Aberdour and Kelty close between August and September.

The bank’s Lundin Links, East Wemyss, Thornton and Markinch branches all closed last year.

The bank, which is still 79 per cent owned by the UK taxpayer, claims that changing customer habits are behind the move.

However, Rob McGregor, Unite’s national officer for finance, said: “By continuing to close local branches, the Royal Bank of Scotland is turning its back on both the skilled and experienced staff who have been striving to keep it on the road to recovery, and local communities.

He added: “Unite supports the bank in its efforts to find new ways to reflect customer needs, but this cannot be at the expense of the local branches our communities depend on.”

RBS previously said customers were well served by nearby outlets and ATM services were abundant in the affected areas.

An RBS spokesperson said: “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.

“Our customers are increasingly using alternative ways to bank with them such as online and mobile banking.

“We are writing to all of our customers who use the branch, as well as displaying posters in branch to let them know of the closure.

“Between now and the closure date, we will engage with all of our customers, local businesses and the wider local community to make sure 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.”

Meanwhile, MSP Rod Campbell said: “It is disappointing that the RBS is continuing its spate of Branch closures, although I do accept that declining footfall will make the business less viable. I am seeking early clarification that staff employed at the branches will not be affected.”

Mr Campbell has written to RBS asking the bank to roll out its “monile branch” service in the near future for customers who want to conduct bank transactions in person.

He added: “The loss of the presence of the banks will be keenly felt in these small communities, however, and the replacement of the services will not fill the physical void that their departures will create. I have written to the Scottish Government to ask for any support they can provide to help ensure the physical space the bank leaves behind is not left empty, for too long.”

Newly elected SNP MP for Fife North East, Stephen Gethins, added:“The RBS is tearing valuable assets out of communities across this constituency, just months after another spate of branch closures that left Ladybank and Lundin Links with no bank branches on their high streets.

“Post Office services and online banking don’t work for everyone, and many people in rural areas rely on their local services. The RBS must ensure, at the very least, a continuity of service in the communities that will be hit hardest by these closures. I have asked for an early meeting with the RBS to discuss this further.”