Around 200 residents attended meetings last week about the closures of RBS branches across the Borders.
Attendees expressed a range of concerns including the impact on elderly residents, businesses and charities. People also questioned whether mobile branches were fit for purpose.
Votes were taken at the meetings and at every one, the vast majority of people used the bank branches at least once a week and opposition to the closures was unanimous or close to unanimous.
At the Duns meeting, it was pointed out that if the RBS branch was closed, there would be no disabled access to banking in the town. It was also revealed that the post office would only be able to accept up to £250 in coins, which would be a problem for some community groups wishing to deposit money raised through fundraising.
At Hawick, a number of local Councillors attended the meeting to express their concern that the loss of another major business would harm efforts to regenerate the town. Issues surrounding the safety of churches and charities who would have to keep money on their premises overnight were also discussed.
At Melrose, residents were not convinced that the bank would be saved, despite the stay of execution announced by RBS. Around 80% of those who came to the meeting visited the branch once a week and concern was expressed by small business owners who needed change and banking services which the Post Office could not provide.
There was so much interest in the meetings that John and Rachael are now looking in to holding similar meetings in Eyemouth, Jedburgh and Selkirk.
Linda Bonar, Post Office External Affairs Manager attended all three meetings to talk people through what services the Post Office are able to offer in the event of these closures going ahead.
Speaking after the meetings, Rachael Hamilton MSP said: “Our public meeting gave communities the chance to air their views for the first time. The lack of public engagement from RBS has been shockingly poor. They should have showed up to listen to the strength of public opinion against bank closures.
“It was great to see such a fantastic turn-out at each meeting. I have lots to report back to RBS to make they understand the impact these closures will have on their customers.
“It is so important to keep the pressure up on RBS and try and force them to change this awful decision.”
John Lamont MP said: “To have 200 people turn up is a real demonstration of the level of feeling in the Borders about branch closures.
“Many more who were unable to attend these meetings have contacted me to stress their concerns and I’m now hoping to fit in further meetings in other locations facing closures.
“I think that RBS have been taken aback by the huge reaction to this. The fact that they have been forced in to a rethink already is a ray of hope that the battle to save our branches is not over yet.
“The views of everyone who came along will be fed in to the work of the Scottish Affairs Committee. I’m looking forward to making these views clear to RBS boss Ross McEwan when he’s dragged before the Committee.”