Whithorn residents will suffer if bank closes, say community leaders

The RBS branch in Whithorn is due to close in September
The RBS branch in Whithorn is due to close in September

In an open letter to RBS, Whithorn Community Council have criticised the state-backed lender for planning to pull the plug on the branch in the town in September and asked them to come to a meeting to explain their actions.

On behalf of the members, secretary Julia Muir-Watt composed the following to bank chiefs:

“At tonight’s meeting of Whithorn and District Community Council, members noted with dismay the intention to close the Whithorn branch of RBS. It was also much regretted that there had been no consultation with the community beforehand, and no offer of compromise solutions, such as opening for part of the week.

“In particular, it was noted that the threat of closure had distressed elderly customers, who were wary of using online and other forms of banking access, in place of visits to the bank. It was also noted that the distance to the nearest RBS branch was 18 miles and that the Post Office provided only limited services to customers of RBS.

“Shop owners were complaining about the inconvenience this would cause with ordering change and also with depositing cash.

“In general, it was felt that the complete withdrawal of a high street presence in Whithorn would have a knock-on effect on businesses in the town, by further reducing the range of facilities available in the town centre.

“Members noted that RBS was publicly owned and had purported to understand rural communities in Scotland, advertising in the aftermath of the banking crisis that it would not close local branches. As sponsor of the Highland Show, it has claimed to support the rural way of life, yet this radical closure shows little understanding of the impact this will have on the struggling high streets of small communities like Whithorn. The lack of consultation shows that RBS has little understanding of the debt it owes to the public for rescuing it, after its own risky banking practices and obscure financial products brought the banking system to its knees and caused misery to thousands of consumers and bank customers. Communities like Whithorn have yet to recover from that impact but are now confronted with a further blow by the bank which was at the epicentre of the financial crisis.

“The Community Council asks that the Bank send a representative to its next meeting to discuss the matter further. I should be obliged if you would revert to me in this connection as soon as possible. Our meeting is held on the last Thursday of each month.”