Scottish Rural Action and Disability Equality Scotland have joined forces with Jeane Freeman MSP to seek clarity on the legal status of the planned closures of 62 Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) branches across Scotland.
The group has written to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to question if the plans would be in breach of the Equalities Act 2010. RBS plans to replace some of the branches with visits from mobile banking vans, which the organisations say are not appropriate for many people with physical disabilities.
Communities across Scotland were angered by the announcement last year that RBS would be closing a feature of many high streets which have seen numerous businesses close, making empty units commonplace.
Lack of disabled access was highlighted as a major concern by Disability Equality Scotland when they polled their members, so the organisation has joined forces with Scottish Rural Action who have been campaigning against the closures since the announcement was made.
Emma Cooper, Scottish Rural Action chief executive, said: “We already knew that the plans from RBS hadn’t taken fully into consideration the impacts on Scotland’s rural communities, so it comes as no surprise to see that RBS has failed to consider some of it’s most vulnerable customers.
“It’s clearer than ever that this has been a decision based purely on figures on a balance sheet and RBS is not prioritising its customers needs.
“The research from Disability Equality Scotland, and the experiences of Jeane Freeman MSPs constituents show that the needs of people with disabilities have not been adequately considered. We have asked the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to urgently assess if this is in breach of the Equalities Act before RBS is allowed to proceed.
“There is still time for RBS to reconsider its planned closures - evidence of the impacts on rural communities and disabled customers is now piling up. The human impact far outweighs some figures on a balance sheet.”
Morven Brooks, Disability Equality Scotland CEO, added: “Our members had very genuine concerns over the impact these proposed closures will have on disabled people; specifically the introduction of inaccessible and inconvenient mobile banks, which do not provide the service that disabled people are entitled to.”