Berwickshire could be left with only one full time bank if Royal Bank of Scotland goes ahead with their plans to close their Duns and Eyemouth branches.
The two branches are among the 62 branches the bank plans to close next year, other Borders branches under threat include Hawick, Selkirk, Melrose and Jedburgh.
The move follows previous branch closures by RBS at Greenlaw and Chirnside three years ago and Bank of Scotland’s decision to shut its Coldstream branch which closed in October this year.
It will leave the Bank of Scotland’s Eyemouth branch as the only full time banking service in Berwickshire, as the only other Bank of Scotland branch at Duns is currently open three days a week.
With 175 jobs at risk the union Unite Scotland described the closure of one in four Scottish branches as “institutional financial vandalism” and has called on the Scottish Government to intervene to avert “a community and jobs catastrophe”.
Berwick MP John Lamont said: “We’ve now had nine RBS branches close in recent years and many people will be asking when this will stop. These plans effectively mean RBS is set to withdraw from the Scottish Borders.
“While we all accept that with internet and telephone banking, branch use has declined, I don’t believe the banks understand fully that many elderly and vulnerable people want to do their banking face to face. And many local businesses who handle cash need their local branch.
“Despite my protests, RBS do not look likely to reverse this decision, so the focus now needs to be on supporting customers and staff. I have sought a commitment from RBS that mobile branches will be rolled out in all six towns at the very least.”
Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, said: “The news of further branch closures from RBS will be hugely concerning to many people in Scotland as it now not only affects, potentially, staff at RBS but also leaves large areas of Scotland, particularly rural areas, with limited branch coverage.
“Indeed Berwickshire itself will be left with one full time bank following the closure of the Eyemouth and Duns branches.
“The worst impact will be on the most vulnerable members of our society, for many of whom going into a branch is the only feasible way to conduct their banking. “While recognising that footfall in branches is falling, due to online banking, RBS and other banks must take into account the needs of all customers - not just those who can access and use digital services.
“Along with my colleagues, I will be engaging with RBS and the UK Government to ensure that everything possible is being done to mitigate the impact of this decision on communities affected.”
An RBS spokesperson said: “More and more of our customers are choosing to do their everyday banking online or on mobile. Since 2012 the number of customers using our branches in Scotland has fallen by 44 per cent.
“Only one per cent of our customers in Scotland now use a branch regularly while the number of regular mobile users has increased by 39 per cent since 2015. We expect these closures to result in around 158 redundancies. We realise this is difficult news for our colleagues and we are doing everything we can to support those affected. We will ensure compulsory redundancies are kept to an absolute minimum.”