The closure of the Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Stonehaven has been described as a “blow to the local economy”.
The bank announced last week that it was closing the branch on October 2, along with the Banchory branch on September 28 and the Westhill bank on October 3.
Customers at all three branches will be diverted to RBS’s base at Aberdeen’s Queens Cross while the bank will offer a mobile branch in all three affected places.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has hit out at the closure, calling it a ”blow to local economy”.
Catherine Ward, development manager for FSB in Aberdeenshire, said: “This closure comes at a time when small firms across Scotland are already struggling to access banking services.
“Increased reliance on limited Post Office facilities and poor broadband connectivity have seriously impacted the ability of small businesses to bank effectively. This hurts their productivity, their profitability, and ultimately, the local economy.
“With the Stonehaven branch closing, cash handling business owners will find themselves driving long distances in order to bank their takings. This presents both a personal security risk and takes them away from their businesses for long periods of time, thus harming their productivity.”
A Royal Bank of Scotland spokesperson said: “The way people choose to bank with us has changed radically over the last few years. Between 2010 and 2015, mobile and online transactions have increased by over 400 per cent and mobile transactions alone have increased by 1,350 per cent.
“Since 2011 we have seen the number of transactions in the Stonehaven branch decline by 30 per cent.
“These customers are actively choosing to bank in different ways, with 66.6% of customers choosing to use our digital banking options.
“We are communicating with our customers affected by the closure and proactively contacting vulnerable and regular branch customers. We have listened closely to feedback from local communities and have extended the time between announcing our decision and the branch closure to six months.
“This has been done in order to ensure our customers have time to consider the right banking options for them.
“We know that not all of our customers are comfortable and familiar with using online or mobile banking, so we have created a new specialist taskforce of Digital Experts who will be dedicated to supporting our customers with training and support with digital skills.
“We are following the Access to Banking protocol and we have made the decision after careful consideration of a wide range of factors, including regular branch usage and the alternative ways our customers can bank with us. We provide a range of alternative ways to bank, tailored to the needs of our customers.’’