ANOTHER week, another local bank closure. This time it’s the TSB branch in Tranent. Actually, TSB is closing 29 branches, 17 in Scotland.
As chair of the Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Banking, I am appalled by the rash of branch closures by all the major banks. It is cutting costs to boost return, with no regard to customer needs. I’m having a meeting this month with Ross McEwan, boss of RBS, at which I will complain about the closure of the bank’s outlet in Prestonpans.
The only way to make TSB change its mind is to organise a united campaign representing all the affected branches in Scotland. It also needs to be an all-party approach. If we conduct an isolated fight, or turn it into a partisan affair, it lets TSB off the hook. We also need to mount a resolutely positive campaign. The bank claims use of the Tranent High Street branch is falling. But no wonder: it closes at 4pm most days, is closed for lunch when ordinary folk want access, and is closed on Saturdays when people shop. Demand TSB gives Tranent a better service! By the way, if you want to complain directly to TSB, contact 03459 758758. On another topic, thanks to the 3,470 folk in East Lothian who signed the petition to Parliament opposing Donald Trump’s state visit. That represents 3.4 per cent of the county’s 102,050 constituents – not a bad sample of opinion. Altogether to date, 1,856,045 people across Britain have signed the petition. Of course, there is a perfectly reasonable argument that says Mr Trump is the president of the most powerful nation on earth and we can’t just ignore him. Equally, surely he can come to the UK without the Conservative Government sucking up to him in such an outrageous fashion.
The pathetic way in which Theresa May is grovelling to Trump gives the lie to the notion that Brexit has made the UK stronger. Quite the opposite, in fact. Meanwhile, the backbench Tories at Westminster are trying to unseat the Speaker, John Bercow, for daring to say he won’t let Trump address MPs and Peers in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the palace. If it comes to a vote of no confidence in Bercow, I shall vote against. As ever, I’d welcome your views on the issue. My email is: email@example.com