Unite Scotland ask politicians to support communities hit by Virgin Money branch closures

Unite the union has contacted politicians at Holyrood and Westminster demanding support for local communities and workers affected by the proposed closure of 12 Virgin Money bank branches across Scotland.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 9:11 am
The Banchory branch is to close early 2022 and Andrew Bowie MP(inset) has urged the bank to rethink the decision.

The trade union has asked Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, and the Chair of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, Pete Wishart MP, to work with Unite so that Virgin Money can be held ‘accountable for their actions'.Unite has requested that the Scottish Affairs Select Committee hold an inquiry, and evidence hearings into the proposed branch closures in order to examine the devastating impact that this will inflict on workers and communities.

In 2018, the Committee held a similar inquiry into the proposed closure of 62 Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) branches across Scotland.

The pressure led to the subsequent reprieve of 10 RBS branches.

Unite has previously warned that the ‘axe will fall the hardest’ in Scotland as remote island and rural communities, and town centres are set to be ‘left behind’ by Virgin Money.

The Banchory branch is earmarked for closure in early January 2022.

Debbie Hutchings, Unite industrial officer, said: “Unite has written to the Scottish Government and the Scottish Affairs Select Committee to enlist their support on behalf of the workers and the local communities who will be left behind by Virgin Money’s shameful branch closure plan.

“We do not believe Virgin Money has understood the importance of these local banks, and the huge impact it will have on communities across Scotland.

"It’s completely unacceptable that a banking giant can just ruthlessly run roughshod over workers, communities and businesses without any sense of social responsibility.

“We need Holyrood and Westminster to intervene so that we can save these branches and maintain the vital lifeline that these banks provide for people and workers.”

North East MP Andrew Bowie has also urged banking bosses to rethink the withdrawal of some "vital services" in his constituency.

Mr Bowie wrote to Virgin Money following the decision to close its Banchory branch.

In his letter, the West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP highlights the need to retain local banking facilities and the pitfalls of relying on other methods for customers to access services.

He states: "Banchory is a large rural town with a population of some 8,000 residents. It is the main town along the Deeside corridor and as such offers vital services to a much larger number of people residing in the many rural settlements within easy reach.

"Whilst I appreciate the reference to 'other ways to bank', the reality is many are not as accessible as they would be in an urban area. Internet banking is an option, but in an area known as one of the worst for broadband and mobile coverage it is certainly not a solution."

Mr Bowie hopes to meet with Virgin Money representatives within the coming weeks and will update constituents who bank with them as soon as possible.