14 December 2017

S5M-09362 Bank Branch Closures

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Linda Fabiani): The next item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-09362, in the name of Kate Forbes, on bank branch closures in Scotland. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion moved,

That the Parliament is deeply concerned by the successive waves of bank branch closures across Scotland in 2017, including the recent announcement that RBS plans to close 62 branches; recognises that, while many customers choose to bank online, not every person or business can access all services in this manner and might have to travel over an hour to their nearest branch; believes that these closures will have the greatest impact on older and vulnerable customers who depend on staff and services in their local branch, cash-based businesses that need to make deposits and withdrawals as locally as possible and rural communities, such as those in Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, which it believes have been almost abandoned by the banks in recent years, and notes the calls on the banks responsible to improve their customer service to loyal and dependent customers.

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Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

I draw members’ attention to my entry in the register of interests. I remind banks that they do not stand apart from wider society—they exist to serve it, and they depend on its support for their continued existence and their special privileges.

The Bank of Scotland opened its doors in 1695 and drew opprobrium in 1715 when its board backed a Jacobite rebellion. That led to the foundation of the Hanoverian Royal Bank of Scotland and nearly closed the Bank of Scotland. Today, with RBS and others removing branch-based services from communities across Scotland, particularly in Banff in my constituency, there is a significant risk to some banks’ future success.

Banks should set aside short-term financial targets to ensure their long-term survival. They can do so by re-earning the trust and support of local people by being part of communities through having a meaningful physical presence in them. In 1826, the Bank of Scotland manager in Kirkcaldy angered his customer, David Landale, was challenged to a duel, accepted the challenge and lost. The bank lost a manager and could not even take possession of the gun that killed him. Fall out with your customers at your peril! Today’s gun levelled at the banks may merely be metaphorical, but it could be just as deadly.


Stewart Stevenson
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fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

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