Banking on improved wheelchair access

Michael Moore MP cutting the ribbon to officially open the new ramp following a campagin by local wheelchair users for better access. '(left to right, back:) Michael Moore MP, Cllr Francais Renton, Paul Jess, Hazel Anderson, Julie Clasper, Ellie L and Grant Findlay. (left to right, front:) Morag Blakie and Kathleen Gordon
Michael Moore MP cutting the ribbon to officially open the new ramp following a campagin by local wheelchair users for better access. '(left to right, back:) Michael Moore MP, Cllr Francais Renton, Paul Jess, Hazel Anderson, Julie Clasper, Ellie L and Grant Findlay. (left to right, front:) Morag Blakie and Kathleen Gordon

Three disabled Duns residents have campaigned for almost three years to have access into their local bank improved and last week the new level access for wheelchairs was officially unveiled at the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Duns branch.

Borders MP Michael Moore was contacted by the intrepid trio of Amanda Hanlon, Iain McDonald and Morag Blaikie when their efforts were getting them nowhere, and after taking up the case Mr Moore was on hand last Friday to visit the branch to mark the formal completion of the work.

RBS say that it will mean improved access for business and personal customers and specifically it will enhance access for those with wheelchairs or pushchairs.

But for Morag, Iain and Amanda it means the difference between having to conduct their banking business out on the street and being able to speak to staff inside the building, the same as other customers.

Disabled access into both the Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland branches in Duns was impossible for them and after receiving what they described as “less than satisfactory responses” from the head offices of both banks the Station Court residents contacted their local MP Michael Moore and Berwickshire councillors Frances Renton and David Raw, who took up their case.

The Duns branch was built over 150 years ago, and as a Grade B listed building together with its age, location and designing the new access and getting listed building consent took time but in September last year work eventually got underway.

A spokesperson for The Royal Bank said: “The Royal Bank is committed to the provision of level access in its branches and has made every effort to ensure that the requirements of the Equality Act are met wherever possible. In the case of Duns branch, the bank engaged in consultation with the relevant authorities as well as experts in the construction and design industries in order to deliver a suitable solution.

Michael Moore MP said: “I’m so pleased that as a result of campaigns from Duns Councillor Frances Renton and local disabilities groups, RBS have taken this action and built a ramp to improve access to the bank.

“For Borderers who use wheelchairs, pushchairs and walking aids, accessing buildings can be a real challenge and it is vital that local businesses and public services respond to people’s needs as RBS have done.

“It was great to be here to mark the formal completion of the ramp and I want to thank the local groups, politicians and RBS for working together to make this happen.”

Local chief executive officer for RBS, Hazel Anderson, said: “Despite the complex nature of the project, we are delighted that the work has been completed at Duns branch.

“We hope the new level access will make life easier for those with wheelchairs or pushchairs and that our customers will find it a helpful addition to the service we provide.

“This project represents a major investment for the bank and demonstrates in a very real way our commitment to serving the local community.”