Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has condemned Royal Bank of Scotland bosses for announcing they will be paying out a dividend to shareholders – its first for ten years – after axing a string of local branches.
The Royal Bank, which is still substantially-owned by the taxpayer, axed branches in Buckie, Banff and Turriff, as well as removing the Mobile Bank service from Cullen and Aberchirder last year.
The Conservative UK Government still owns around 62 per cent of the shares in RBS but repeatedly refused to intervene to save any of the branches earmarked for closure.
Mr Stevenson said: “The announcement that RBS is to pay out a dividend after another brutal round of branch closures will come as a slap in the face to customers.
“As I have highlighted recently, one solution to the problems created by bank closures is a community banking hub as proposed in a recent study for Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
" If just half of the planned dividend payout of 2p per share had instead been put towards that and matched by the other banks, that relatively small sum would have seen a transformation across our now ‘unbanked’ communities.
“It seems clear to me from my inbox and postbag that many people still need or prefer to do their banking in a branch setting. Community banking hubs are an idea worthy of serious consideration.”