29 January 2018
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has said she is dismayed by the latest response she has received from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) about the closure of 13 branches in the Highlands and Islands.
The MSP wrote again to the bank at the start of the year, stressing again, the impact their decision to close the branches will have on its customers, its staff and the wider communities in general.
However, Mrs Grant has received a response advising that the bank is sticking to their guns and pressing ahead with the closures despite the level of local opposition to this.
“I asked the bank again how they intend to provide services to people who don’t have access to a computer or internet connection.
"I asked if the replacement mobile branches complied with disability regulations for customers and staff.
"I asked them to advise me how many times they would be visiting the areas where their branches will be closing, particularly Beauly and Barra which will be left with no bank if these closures go ahead.
"I asked them how they are going to avoid compulsory redundancies for staff on Barra without them having to leave the island to gain employment.
“The responses I received are scant and uncaring."
“They waffled on the question of providing services for people who do not have access to a computer or internet connection and they again said Post Offices are available for people to do their banking.
“With regard to disability access, the response says the bank takes its responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 very seriously.
"They say that where a customer advises them of a disability, they take steps to ensure that reasonable adjustments can be put in place to ensure that disabled customers are able to access their banking services.
"They give no detail of what these reasonable adjustments are.
"They offer an assurance that the appropriate adjustments are made to ensure all staff, should they require assistance in this respect, are comfortable and able to provide the type of service their customers require.
"Again, they give no detail of what these appropriate adjustments are.
“They have not given me a timetable of when the mobile branches will visit the areas where their branches will close.
“They say there will be no compulsory redundancies in Barra - however closing a branch is taking away jobs from the area, however they choose to dress it up.
Mrs Grant continued “I am dumfounded by the bank’s lack of empathy with their customers and their staff and I will be contacting the Equality and Human Rights Commission to see if their laissez-faire attitude to disabled access complies with legislation.”