Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil welcomed today’s rapid U-turn by the Royal Bank over ripping out the ATM in Castlebay as part of its plan to close the branch, the only bank on the island.

But he is now calling for a rethink of the whole scheme as it affects Barra.

Angus MacNeil MP said: “From the correspondence the RBS has sent me they had suggested that a local alternative ATM could be in Portree, Tobermory or indeed Oban. That is the equivalent of telling the people of Dover that they can go to Paris to access a cash machine.

“To ensure the continual running of the ATM, RBS now need to have a staff member in Barra. Given there are only three staff members, two with part-time hours and that all the business on the islands of over 1000 people use and need RBS, it is time for the bank to think through sensibly the other part of their decision.

“They also inform me that only 11 people per week use the branch in Castlebay.

“However, I can confirm that this is utterly untrue, it is grossly misleading and nowhere near the true situation, as this morning alone, sources in Castlebay, keeping an eye on the bank door, tell me that they have seen 20 people going into the branch this morning alone, mostly local businesses.

“Therefore, I have asked Ross McEwan, Chief Executive of the Bank to a meeting in Barra because he must follow former US President Truman’s maxim “the buck stops here” and show that he is responsible and understands fully the effects of the Royal Bank’s actions.

“After all the public saved the RBS therefore surely they will have the courage to face the same public. Despite what happened in the past, Fred didn’t go as far as shredding these branches.”

Meanwhile, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has welcomed the decision by Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to retain their branch’s ATM on the Isle of Barra, but also reiterated his calls for the bank to reconsider the decision to close the branch.

RBS informed the MSP earlier this afternoon (Friday December 1) that they were “committed to ensuring that there is 24 hour access to cash on Barra” and that they “will therefore be retaining the ATM when the branch closes.”

Alasdair Allan MSP said: “This is a step in the right direction and I am thankful to RBS for taking onboard my concerns about the devastating impact that leaving Barra without an ATM would have.”

“However, they are still pressing ahead with plans to close the only bank on the island. This is very disappointing news for both customers and particularly for staff who will now be worried about their future so close to Christmas

“Many people are still dependent on face-to-face services and I cannot emphasis enough the serious difficulties this is going to cause people in Barra & Vatersay.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Leader, Councillor Roddie Mackay condemned the decision of the Royal Bank of Scotland decision.

Mr Mackay said: “The Royal Bank of Scotland has shown complete disregard for the circumstances of the islands by closing the Castlebay branch and withdrawing the only cashline machine on the island.

“It will damage an already fragile island economy and impact the decision making of families considering relocating to the island, employees, visitors, as well as the many local residents and local businesses which will be affected.

“RBS is 73% owned by the UK taxpayer, yet it seems to have taken no account of the public in reaching this decision. I will be writing to the Bank asking that it reconsiders this ill-advised decision and the subsequent impact it will have on the community of Barra.”