The Royal Bank of Scotland has announced that branches in Greelaw, Chirnside and Newtown St Boswells will close in June.
The bank says the decision has been made following a drop in customer numbers, and promises to work with local Post Offices and a new mobile van in an attempt to limit the effect to customers.
Branches in Chirnside and Greenlaw will close on June 18, with the branch in Newtown St Boswells closing on June 25.
An RBS spokesperson said: “We have taken the difficult decision to close the RBS Chirnside and Greenlaw branches on 18th June 2014 and the Newtown St Boswells branch on 25th June 2014.
“We are taking a number of steps to ensure our customers are still served in the communities affected, including working with local Post Offices (where customers will be able to pay money in, take money out, check their balances and pay bills) and we are also introducing a new mobile van with the routes arranged with local councils.”
RBS says its Chirnside branch, currently open for 9.25 hours a week, is only used by 19 customers on a regular basis.
“For customers who have basic bank accounts we will lift restrictions currently in place which will allow them to use ATMs from other banks,” said an RBS spokesperson. “The number of customers using this branch has dropped by more than 20% since 2011 as more and more of them use alternative ways of banking with us. This includes by phone, in Post Offices, by app and online.”
The bank says the Greenlaw branch, also open for 9.5 hours a week, is used by 20 customers on a regular basis. It says the number of people using the branch has dropped by 20% since 2011.
However, local politicians John Lamont and Michael Moore have both raised concerns about the bank’s decision. Both have asked for a meeting with the bank’s management to raise their concerns.
John Lamont MSP said: “This is very concerning news and I am deeply disappointed that RBS have chosen to shut these three branches. This move will see these communities lose a key service, in addition to putting the jobs of those who work there under threat.
“I know that the RBS branches in Chirnside, Greenlaw and Newtown are all highly valued by those in the community who use them, and many of these customers will be angered to hear this news.
“Although the bank says that customer numbers have been falling, I know that many of these branches are used by local businesses and the branch in Newtown sees a lot of transactions due to its proximity to the local market.
“While RBS might be trying to move many of their customers to online banking, for many residents this is simply not an option as they might not have either the technology to use it or a reliable internet connection. There are also some services that cannot be done online and for which having access to a branch is essential.”
Mr Lamont added: “There is no doubt that these closures will adversely affect RBS customers in the Borders, and that is why I have asked for a meeting with the bank’s senior management to discuss the issue. They need to understand just how damaging these closures could be to these communities and I look forward to making the case for keeping these branches open.”
Borders MP Michael Moore said: “These branch closures raise serious issues about access to banking facilities by my constituents and I am concerned to understand the alternative arrangements being put in place. I have arranged to meet with RBS to discuss these serious issues.
“What is not clear is if this is the start of something much bigger for branches across the Borders. The bank needs to be more open about their wider plans and how older and more vulnerable bank customers will get their bank services in the future.
“I understand that banking is changing and the way people want to use their banks is changing, with more flexibility about mobile banking and online banking, but until we have both the broadband and mobile signal reception issues sorted out in the Borders, people need to be provided with alternative ways of accessing their banking facilities, and this is the important role that are our local branches fulfil.”