CAMPAIGNERS in Tain are pledging to continue to battle bank bosses to rethink the threatened closure of the town’s RBS.
That follows news the banking giant has reprieved closure plans for branches in Kyle, Beauly and Tongue – at least until the end of the year.
As a "use it or lose it" call was issued for those branches, disappointed campaigners in Tain insist the fight to keep the doors open will continue.
The Royal Bank of Scotland said this week it will reassess plans for 10 branches in the Highlands after earlier serving notice that a total of 62 branches across Scotland are under threat.
Tain and Easter Ross ward councillor Fiona Robertson said: "I am very disappointed that Tain is not on the list. Tain is a very well used branch and figures published showed it to be one of the busier branches. We will continue to campaign for the Tain branch to remain open and hope that our MSPs and MPs will also ensure that Tain is a priority for them."
The area’s MP, Jamie Stone, urged people to visit their local branches, including reprieved Tongue in his constituency, as often as possible.
He said: "The old saying ‘use it or lose it’ was never truer than now. I see this success as only the first step in the long campaign to turn around the supertanker of wrong thinking that so far guided rural bank branch closures in Scotland. What turns out to be right for Tongue can also be right for Tain and Wick and so many other communities across Scotland."
Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford welcomed the reprieves announced. He said: "This is great news for the people who were facing having no bank at all in their communities and I am delighted that management of RBS has listened and done the right thing by them."
Unite union bosses in Scotland said RBS have been forced to look at the plans again due to public backlash and called for the same thing to happen to all branches facing the axe.
May Alexander, deputy secretary for Scotland, said: "We should be clear about this - it is a stay of execution.
"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?
"We remain gravely concerned about the remaining 52 closures and will be seeking an urgent meeting with the top bank officials about this."
Amanda Frazer, the federation of Small Businesses’ Highlands and Islands area leader, said: "Businesses in and around Ross-shire will be delighted that Kyle and Beauly are among the branches to have been granted a stay of execution, though there is no guarantee thereafter. However, we must not forget the other Highlands and iIslands branches that are still slated for closure: Tain, Wick, Aviemore, Grantown on Spey, Nairn, Inverness Queensgate and Mallaig. For the businesses, communities and visitors who use these, today’s news will be of little comfort."
"In short, while we accept that RBS has made some concessions, it doesn’t look like the change of heart that FSB has been calling for."
An RBS spokeswoman said: "Having listened to the concerns of customers, communities and elected representatives we have decided to keep 10 branches open until the end of 2018. During this period we will monitor the level of transactions and new income at each branch and if there is a sustained and viable increase in both then we will reconsider the closure as part of a full independent review."
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