Concerns raised over bank closures

COUNCILLORS have expressed concerns over the closure of banks in Highland communities.

Chair of Resources Committee Maxine Smith responded to the announcement that RBS is to close its branch in Invergordon, where there are no remaining banks. She said: “It is very concerning to hear of this closure, when RBS previously gave assurances that they had a policy of not closing branches where they were the last bank in a town. Not everyone has access to online banking and in areas of social deprivation, such as Invergordon, people really need to be able to have physical access to a bank without the cost and inconvenience of travelling to another town.”

Acting Leader David Alston added: “This will be a blow to people in Invergordon and is a worrying trend if banks start to withdraw last branches from other towns in the region. The Highlands covers a vast area and we have dispersed and  fragile communities which depend on basic services such as banking. We will be writing to RBS in the strongest terms to ask them to reconsider their decision and to clarify their policy in this regard.”

Local members for the Cromarty Firth Ward also voiced their concerns. They added: “We were very concerned to hear that the RBS have taken a decision to close the last remaining bank in Invergordon and have asked our CEO of Highland Council and Stuart Black to start a constructive dialogue to enable the decision to be overturned. We must have the basic infrastructure to allow businesses and the community to operate and have access to banking.

“Whilst we recognise that the Oil & Gas market is in a downturn, this will not last forever and we are confident when the Oil price increases so will the business opportunities. The Port Authority has just invested £25m to create an additional Quay, laydown and space for other facilities which we are sure will attract some of the renewable projects that are coming on stream. Going forward we anticipate that there will be long term sustainable employment and that will require access to banking. We are keen that conversations take place to find a solution and urge the RBS to look at how some form of banking can be continued and we as Councillors are keen to investigate all options. We sincerely hope that we can reach some form of mutual agreement.”

Ward 7 Cromarty Firth Members are: Cllr Mike Finlayson; Cllr Martin Rattray; Cllr Maxine Smith and Cllr Carolyn Wilson

21 May 2015
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