DINGWALL-based MSP Kate Forbes has made a fact-finding visit to the closure-threatened Kyle of Lochalsh Royal Bank of Scotland branch and stated her opposition to the RBS proposals.
The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch met regional manager Paul Dykes and staff as well as customers concerned about the closure threat, which also faces RBS branches in Tain, Beauly, Mallaig and Aviemore.
The Kyle branch has almost 2500 customers and last year saw 25,000 transactions. If the closure goes ahead, the nearest branch is over 30 miles away in Portree.
Ms Forbes said: "I visited the Kyle branch because I wanted to meet the staff and some of the customers who face the greatest challenge with the announcement by Royal Bank of Scotland’s decision to close the branch. Of course, it must be a very unsettling time for everybody connected with the branch.
"I was amazed by the absolute dedication of the staff to their customers, who are keen to ensure that nobody is anxious about how they will bank. I recommend that if any customers are worried, they should pop into the branch and chat to the staff who will help with any questions."
She said: "Obviously, I would like to see RBS reverse its decision to close the branch. I am adamant that all customers’ needs must be catered for. Of particular concern to me are elderly and vulnerable customers, who are some of the branch’s most loyal customers.
"The physical branch might be leaving the Highlands but that is no excuse for poor customer service or failing to meet customer needs. Clearly, businesses and personal customers both need access to banking services – to withdraw and deposit cash, to open and close account and to take out loans and mortgages.
"RBS and other banks are going to have to up their game to ensure that rural customers are not disadvantaged because the impact on the rural economy would be colossal."