Community group in Newtongrange mulls over last bank closure

Jason Ferry
Jason Ferry

Newtongrange Community Council feels that a recent change in the law has made fighting the closure of the last bank in the village worthless.

At its latest meeting the group discussed its options following the announcement by RBS a month ago that it would close the last bank in Newtongrange on November 3.

The group’s chairman Jason Ferry said: “They are saying that it’s just due to a reduction in the branch’s transactions of 16 per cent since 2011.

“They are only doing this up and down the country to get back into the black to please shareholders. But it seems that customers are not important to them.

“I have looked into this issue and it’s not just a Scottish issue it’s a UK issue. With rural areas losing their banks.

“There was a banking industry agreement in March this year that once a decision has been made to close they are only required to give 12 weeks notice, with no discussions at all with the local community about the closure.

“What can we do as a community council?

“Our MP has reported this. Maybe we could support him and say we feel this closure will have a real impact on bank users in Newtongrange.”

Owen Thompson, SNP MP for Midlothian, said: “I will continue to campaign behalf of my constituents to make the positive case for the branch to remain open.”

Discussing what the community council should do now, Mr Ferry added: “Whether it would be any good for us to send a letter to the chief executive of RBS or start a petition I don’t know.

“I certainly think it would be better putting a letter in on behalf of the community. So we can ensure we get maximum post-closure provision.

“We need to ask them to engage the community as soon as possible to get this consultation started.

“I think there are going to be significant persons in the community who won’t have access to other means of banking, who will be unduly affected.

“They are not going to be able to get the same financial advice from a post office as they would from a branch.”

An RBS spokesman said: “We are committed to following the UK Government protocol on branch closures, and we have made the decision following careful consideration of a wide range of factors including branch usage and the alternative ways our customers can bank with us locally.”