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Concern at change to town bank hours

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By Fiona Reid

A BANK in Lockerbie is set to slash its opening times - less than two years after the nearby Lochmaben branch closed.

From June 13, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) on Lockerbie High Street is set to move from five days a week to just four, closing every Wednesday.

The news has come as a surprise to local councillors, especially following the 2014 closure of the Lochmaben branch, whose clients were transferred to Lockerbie.

Annandale North Councillor Gail Macgregor said: “This is an incredibly disappointing announcement and proves that RBS pledges cannot be trusted.

“When Lochmaben branch closed it was with the caveat that a full service would continue in Lockerbie.

“They have gone back on that pledge by closing all day on a Wednesday, RBS are continuing to penalise rural areas to save money, customer service and accessibility do not seem to be a priority to them.”

She added: “It will obviously have an impact on people visiting the town for business and shopping. I’m even more frustrated that no consultation happened prior to this announcement.”

Fellow Annandale North Councillor Stephen Thompson added: “This is not good news, especially since other branches across the region have been closed recently.

“Online banking is not a viable alternative for everyone, especially since we still have broadband and mobile signal challenges in our rural areas, and there are some services that are best dealt with face-to-face that only a branch can provide, especially for local businesses and residents that find the branch service reassuring.

“It forces an often unwanted and inconvenient change on how we have to conduct our own business and does nothing to help recover the reputation of the banking industry to its customers and public.”

A spokesman for RBS explained they are writing to all customers ahead of the change.

He said: “We will engage with our customers, local businesses and the local community to make sure they are aware of the alternative ways of accessing their banking in the local area, and to answer any questions they might have.

“We are committed to following the UK Government protocol on significant opening hour changes, and we have made the decision following careful consideration of a wide range of factors, including branch usage and the alternative ways our customers can bank with us locally.”

The midweek closure mirrors an emerging banking trend from the RBS franchise who have slashed opening hours across all their Annandale and Eskdale branches, with Langholm being hit the hardest.

It only be open until lunchtime, shutting at 12.30 pm every weekday. Annan and Gretna have also been hit, each losing a day of potential banking.