Lamont slams ‘absurd’ review which recommends closure of Melrose’s RBS branch

Local MP has slammed an independent review which recommends RBS closes its Melrose branch., meaning the town is set to lose its last remaining bank.


Johnston Carmichael, Scotland’s largest independent firm of Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, carried out a review into ten branches across Scotland which have been earmarked for closure at the end of the year.


Today (Friday 28th September) it has published its report, which recommends that Melrose is closed despite customer and transaction numbers increasing in the last year and significantly increasing since the possible reprieve of the branch was announced in February 2018.


The review recommends that the bank considers “certain enhancements to the alternative banking facilities.” For Melrose this includes increasing the mobile branch services in the summer, making it available for the Melrose 7s and Book Festival, changing the location of the mobile branch and retaining the ATM.


The bank has assured customers that they will implement whatever is recommended by Johnston Carmichael “in full.”


Local MP John Lamont has described the recommendations as “absurd” and is calling on RBS to look carefully at the figures presented and keep the branch open.


Commenting, John Lamont MP said: “These recommendations are quite simply absurd.


“The report recognises that customers are not happy with the mobile branch alternative, that telephone banking is “largely unpopular” and that digital banking is impossible for many due to poor broadband.


“It then goes on to set out how customer numbers at the Melrose branch are actually increasing and have actually rocketed since the possibility of the branch staying open was first announced.


“Yet they still recommend the last bank in Melrose closes. That makes absolutely no sense.


“What this review does demonstrate is that Borderers have stepped up to the plate, used their branch in numbers told Johnston Carmichael exactly what they think of the loss of yet another bank.


“RBS should look closely at the figures and consider keeping the branch open anyway. Frankly, given the way they have treated communities in the Borders so far, I won’t hold my breath. At the very least the bank needs to keep the ATM open and look at both moving and increasing the mobile branch visits.”