MSP Joan McAlpine has asked questions in Parliament about RBS plans to close branches in Lockerbie, Annan Langholm and Gretna as part of its plan to cull a third of its operations across Scotland.
In an exchange with Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse, the South Scotland MSP suggested that RBS was in breach of advertising standards when it rebranded itself ‘the Royal Bank for Scotland’ last year, in an attempt to improve its battered image.
Ms McAlpine said it was a deep betrayal of loyal customers, staff and communities, who had stuck by RBS through thick and thin.
She also wrote to RBS Chief Executive Ross McEwan urging him to think again and demanding a meeting to discuss alternatives to the local closure.
During the exchange Ms McAlpine said:
“These closures don’t just affect small villages – I’ve calculated that there are 16 branches across my South Scotland, region including market towns like Lockerbie, Annan and Langholm.
“Last year RBS tried to improve its image through a brand campaign calling itself the Royal Bank for Scotland’ – does the Minister agree with me that people will feel very cynical and regard that as a breach of advertising standards at the very least.”
The Minister – who is a fellow South Scotland MSP with an office in the Borders – responded:
“In my own area my nearest branch is in England which is an irony given the point Joan McAlpine has made about branding.
“It is a concern that six of the eight branches left in the Borders are being closed as part of this programme.
“Clearly this is having quite a devastating impact at a local level.”
This weekend Ms McAlpine also succeeded in getting her party – the SNP – to back a motion condemning the closures, which was passed by acclaim at the Party’s National Council in Perth.