Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed a “belated climbdown” by RBS after they announced today that the Castlebay branch of the Bank is now to remain open.

The branch was one of ten threatened bank branches across Scotland whose futures were being independently reviewed by firm Johnston Carmichael.

Johnston Carmichael recommended that RBS should keep the Castlebay branch open because of concerns that their mobile branches may not be able to reliably get to the island in bad weather. RBS have accepted this and pledged there will be no further reviews of their branch network in the immediate future – until at least 2020.

Commenting, Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“This is a fantastic victory for the people of Barra. The proposal to shut the only bank on the island, leaving the nearest bank a ferry journey away, was always ill thought out, and provoked a reaction in the community and in Parliament.

“RBS would not have been forced into reversing their decision were it not for local campaigners very successfully highlighting the obvious injustice of what was being proposed. The fact that 12,000 people—10 times the population of Barra—signed a petition demanding that RBS keep the branch open underlines this point.

“People and businesses in Barra now have local banking services secured for the immediate future. However, it has taken us more than 9 months and a huge amount of negative publicity for RBS to finally see sense on this issue. They will have a hard time convincing people they have the islands’ best interests at heart. We need to remain vigilant if we are to protect banking services across the islands.”

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