RBS to continue consultation on branch closure

The Royal Bank of Scotland's Westhill branch
The Royal Bank of Scotland's Westhill branch

Royal Bank of Scotland has agreed to ongoing consultation over the closure of its Westhill branch.

It follows a meeting between bank bosses, community representatives and customers.

RBS announced in March that the Westhill branch, along with others in the North-east, would shut its doors in October.

The recent discussions included representatives of the three local community councils - Westhill and District, Echt and Skene and Cluny, Midmar and Monymusk.

Local Councillor Iris Walker arranged the meeting, describing it as a “useful starting point”.

She said: “We are taking a proactive approach rather than a reactive one as we do not want to build up hopes of RBS overturning their decision to close the bank, despite a separate petition being organised.

“What we did ask RBS to do was bring back more in-depth analysis of the figures they first presented to justify the closure, and to produce a “Customer and Community Engagement” document in early course.

“We were able to start a dialogue with them about the alternative banking methods they expect their customers to use.

“At our meeting, RBS agreed to consult further through the local community councils as well as other partners including Aberdeenshire Council.

“This further consultation would include gathering information about the best times, days and location of a mobile branch.”

The councillor added that they were successful with a request that RBS meet separately with local Post Office managers to ensure that they have the capacity to provide alternative banking facilities.

She said: “All in all, this meeting was a useful starting point and we were able to secure more community engagement going forward.

“I would hope that this model of community engagement could be replicated in Banchory and Stonehaven, who are also facing branch closures.”

RBS said at the time of the closure announcement the number of transactions at Westhill had fallen by 39% since 2011, with 71.9% of customers going digital.