A CITY MP has called on Theresa May to step in and stop banks from closing local branches customers rely on.
Joanna Cherry, the SNP member for Edinburgh South West, told the Prime Minister that plans to close RBS branches across the Capital were hitting elderly residents and local businesses.
In December, the bank announced it was shutting half its city branches, cutting the number of locations from 17 to just eight.
Branches at Blenheim Place, Castle Street, Chesser, Comiston, Davidson Mains, Gilmerton, Juniper Green, Portobello and Edinburgh University will disappear from high streets between May and June this year.
The move is being opposed by union Unite, which says the “slash and burn” strategy will result in 45 job losses across Edinburgh, and by local residents, who have branded the move “appalling” and “a catastrophe”.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Ms Cherry called on Mrs May to meet with her to discuss the loss to local services.
“Across the United Kingdom, many banks are accelerating the closure of their branches with adverse effects on vulnerable and older people, and adverse effects on the high street,” Ms Cherry said.
“The Royal Bank of Scotland is closing branches across Scotland, including Juniper Green and Chesser in my constituency.
“Local convenience stores are taking the strain, processing bills, and often facing exorbitant bank charges for the privilege of doing that.”
She asked: “Will the Prime Minister meet with me to discuss how we can realise a situation where banking across the UK serves its customers, and the real economy?”
Mrs May did not commit to a meeting, and said that branch closures were a decision “for individual banks themselves to take and consider”.
The Prime Minister added that “there are many ways that people are accessing bank services, other than visiting a bank branch,” but promised to consider Ms Cherry’s concerns.
The MP has already written to RBS chief executive Ross McEwan to protest at the decision.
Other city politicians, including Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, have also raised the issue with RBS.
The bank has blamed the decision on a decline in the number of customers coming into its branches.
It says people are switching to online and mobile banking in large numbers, with transactions over the internet growing by 400 per cent since 2010.
RBS has pledged to create a team of staff to help customers make the switch online.
The government continues to own more than 70 per cent of RBS after it was bailed out by the taxpayer during the 2008 banking crisis.