RBS Invergordon Update
On Thursday, 7th April, at 7.30pm Dr. Paul Monaghan MP and myself (Cllr Maxine Smith), met with RBS chiefs Martin Gurvan and Garry Munro to discuss the closure in late 2015 of the RBS by their top bosses.
MP Monaghan had taken several months to organise the meeting and had formerly met the Managing Director in London House to go over what had happened and attempted to persuade the RBS to reconsider their decision to close the branch in Invergordon and others in Lybster and Inver, also in his constituency.
On hearing of RBS's intentions Cllr. Smith also initiated plans to prevent closure, in enlisting the help of top bosses in the Council including herself, as she was about to become leader of the Council, and also Albyn Housing Society who bank with the RBS and the Port of the Cromarty Firth. All of these organisations lobbied heavily to save the bank from closure but the RBS had done a desktop exercise which told them these banks were to close. It was going to happen no matter what.
In the months since then Cllr. Maxine Smith negotiated strongly and regulary to bring back an ATM at the site of the former RBS ATM. Finally in December 2015 RBS agreed to do this and applied for planning consent on the listed building they previously occupied. Maxine managed to fast track this planning consent and the Council granted consent during the Christmas week, however there were further delays with the RBS' design team as they needed to put in a separate door and make it secure. The work is due to commence Monday 11th April and be completed by 29th April, opening on that day. Maxine had negotiated for an ATM that took "pay ins" also, but at the meeting on the 7th April the RBS notified us that it would be a normal ATM. We requested that the go away and re-think this.
We requested that the mobile bank which was coming for a few hours on a Thursday come more often and that it park on the High Street. This was agreed and it will attend longer on a Thursday and choose another day, to be announced. It will park outside Albyn Housing on the main part of the High Street for greater visibility and convenience. The RBS will put notices up in the town advising of this location and times of attendance and they will also take the mobile bank to South Lodge and part there for an hour for the elderly to more easily access it. They also offered to do home visits should the infirm or disabled require them and these can be arranged by phoning Michelle, the former manager. Her business cards will be available from the PO shortly, with a number to phone to arrange a home visit.
Paul and Maxine insisted that the RBS go away and consider bringing back a branch to Invergordon and if was adamant it would not, then Paul would actively seek the creation of a new bank, which would stay and not close at the first minor downturn.
The community and business folk who had been invited by Cllr. Smith were active in representing all different views and the two RBS managers were made aware of the town's anger and frustration at the lack of consultation or intention of the RBS to listen to any of the top people and organisations who had contacted them before the closure, let alone all of its customers. One of the attendees, Roy MacGregor, owner of Global Energy Group, offered his assistance, saying if RBS re-considered its position he would put the payroll through of all his 4,100 employees. Paul told them to go back to their chief executive and inform him of this and he would also seek an urgent meeting with the RBS Managing Director. Failure to bring back the would result in a new bank being sought and Roy's offer standing for this new bank.
Cllr. Maxine Smith made the RBS managers aware in no uncertain terms that if the RBS refused to return, a new bank would be found and Roy's offer may clinch this deal. They needed to be aware that if this happened EVERY customer who had an account in the former Invergordon branch of RBS would move their accounts to the new bank and RBS would lose millions of £'s in revenue. They said they would take this away for their bosses to look at.
So Actions are for Dr. Paul Monaghan MP and Cllr. Maxine Smith to liaise and pursue the options of a) RBS returning or b) a new bank.