Ged Killen MP put tough questions to top Royal Bank of Scotland executives over the bank’s failure to live up to promises the bank has made over branch closures.
Les Masterton, Chief Executive of Personal & Business Banking, and Jane Howard, Managing Director of Personal Banking, appeared before the Scottish Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday where MPs were investigating the impact of RBS’s latest round of branch closures.
RBS in recent years has closed their branches in Burnside, Cambuslang and Blantyre. Last year RBS also announced that they are closing their Hamilton Cadzow Street branch.
Ged Killen MP said:
“In 2011 RBS, NatWest ran an advert claiming they would never close the last bank branch in town. I have been contacted by so many people you consider to be vulnerable groups—disabled, children of elderly people—who are very concerned that there is no bank left in town, so much so that I have decided to no longer be a customer of RBS. What impact have you made on these groups with your broken promise not to close the last bank in town?”
Les Masterton replied that the promise should not have been made and that in 2011 mobile banking had not yet “took off”. He added, “we do not want to have branches in places where there are not any customers.”
Raising the issue of a lack of cash machines in areas such as Cambuslang, Ged Killen MP pressed Jane Howard for a commitment to keep services in Cambuslang. Ged Killen MP said:
“The cash machine that is in Cambuslang main street is in a branch that has been closed in the last tranche of closures. The response I had from RBS is that they would not commit to keeping that cash machine there. Will you give that commitment now that cash machines like that, where there is no branch and it is the last cash machine or one of two cash machines, you will not remove it?”
Jane Howard responded:
“Where we have a cash machine in a branch and the branch is closing, we will not remove the cash machine where there is not another free-to-use ATM within a kilometre.”
Speaking after the meeting Ged Killen said:
“Mr Masterton seems to think he doesn’t have any customers in Cambuslang, Burnside or Blantyre. These comments just illustrate how little RBS values the communities who rely on them.
“Ms Howard gave the committee a firm commitment not to remove cash machines – I hope RBS live up to this commitment better than they have done in the past.
“I know from my own experience running a small business that a local bank branch can be as important to the infrastructure of the local economy as anything else. Yet after being bailed out by the taxpayer in 2008, RBS has thanked our communities by shutting up shop.”