Bank bosses accused of being 'tone deaf' over branch closure concerns

The Bank of Scotland has been urged to reconsider plans to shut branches.

Bank of Scotland bosses accused by Douglas Ross of being ‘tone deaf’ over branch closure concerns Google Maps

Bank of Scotland bosses have been accused of being “tone deaf” to concerns over the closure of branches across the country.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross met with executives of the bank at Westminster on Tuesday.

Ross, who is the MP for Moray, has urged them to rethink their decision to close his local branch in Forres.

However, the bank has defended the decision to shut 19 branches across the UK as it highlighted the need to adapt to a growing number of customers using online banking.

A spokesperson also explained that customers in Forres can continue to bank with RBS at the local Post Office, and pointed to several free-to-use ATMs in the area.

But, Ross has warned that the community will suffer as a result of the closure, and described the decision as a “dereliction of duty”.

“The performance of the Bank of Scotland bosses in this meeting was frankly disgraceful,” said Ross.

“They failed to answer any of the questions I posed to them on behalf of constituents who are clear that this branch must remain open.

“It was absolutely appalling to discover that loyal staff were only informed an hour before Bank of Scotland announced their plans to close the branch in July.

“Bosses were clearly not prepared for this meeting and their cowardly attitude was obvious when they told me they wanted to listen to customers, then point blank refused my request for a senior representative to come to Forres and hear the opposition to their plans.

“That is a total insult to local businesses and residents. It is clear they are running scared and are all too happy to ignore the voices of the people who will be affected by this decision.

“It’s completely tone deaf to say you want to listen, then refuse to engage with the community who will suffer as a result of this closure.”

The Scottish Conservative leader, a customer of the Forres branch, said that it marks “extremely worrying times” for banking in Moray.

“It is also concerning that customers like myself are getting told we will be transferred to the branch in Nairn.

“What does that say about the future prospects of the branch in Elgin, which is only a few miles from me compared to Nairn that is over 20 miles away?

“These are extremely worrying times for banking in Moray, yet bosses can’t even answer basic questions.”

He added: “I have written again in the strongest possible terms to the bank, urging them to rethink this closure, which would be a complete dereliction of duty to the people of Forres and to insist that a senior executive comes to the town as a matter of urgency.”

A Bank of Scotland spokesperson said: “When we make the decision to close a branch, we listen to the feedback of both our regular customers and the local community to understand their concerns and support them with the transition to alternative ways of banking.

“In Forres, we’ve seen branch usage more than halve in the last five years, and a further 20% reduction in the last year alone.

“We’re now talking to our customers about the support that they need ahead of the branch closure in July, such as how they complete most of their everyday banking in the Post Office.

“We understand that the news can be difficult for our colleagues, and for those who would like to remain with Bank of Scotland, we aim to support them to a move to a new role within the business.”

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