Borderers have dismissed a suggestion by the Royal Bank of Scotland that communities here could become what it calls cashless towns.
Addressing public meetings in Selkirk, Jedburgh and Eyemouth on Thursday, Borders MP John Lamont said that had been one of the bank’s responses to criticism over planned closures of branches in those towns, as well as Hawick and Duns.
“If you withdraw those services, people aren’t going to be able to get cash,” he said.
“It won’t only impact on individuals. It will affect rural businesses.
“One of the bank’s responses was to make the towns where branches are being closed into cashless towns, which is complete nonsense.
“We’re going to need cash for many years to come.”
At one of the meetings, Mr Lamont added: “RBS were invited to attend today. The empty chair at the front is perhaps indicative of the importance they place on local opinion.”
Organised by Mr Lamont and Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Rachael Hamilton, Thursday’s meetings were called to rally opposition after the bank announced plans late last year to close 62 branches across Scotland, including six in the Borders.
RBS says it will provide towns affected by the closures with alternative ways to bank, including at post offices or in visiting mobile branches, but with Eyemouth having just lost its post office, hopefully only temporarily, this did not raise optimisim at the public meetings.
Residents raised concerns over the post office’s capacity to deal with banking and also access to the mobile bank, with customers physically unable to climb into the van having to do their banking on the street.
Mrs Hamilton agreed that disabled and vulnerable people should not be forced to carry out transactions in the street, adding that she would consider raising the issue with equalities minister Angela Constance.