Time for RBS to make amends and halt threat to bank branches says Isles MP

Commenting on media reports that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has returned to profit for the first time in a decade as it continues its recovery, Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus B MacNeil said:

“It is good to see the RBS returning to profit.  Ross McEwan, Chief Executive of RBS is quoted as saying that this is “a really symbolic moment.”  What would be symbolic would be for Mr McEwan to accept my invitation to come to Castlebay and Lochboisdale and meet the public to explain why he is presiding over the closure of the Castlebay branch and reducing the hours of the Lochboisdale branch.

“RBS continue to use the line that “they provide customers with more ways to bank than ever before – customers can choose from a range of digital, face-to-face and local options. The way people bank with us has changed radically over the last few years: since 2014, the number of customers using our branches across the UK has fallen by 40%”.  If they follow this logic will they close all branches?

Mr MacNeil has invited John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to HM Treasury to the Isle of Barra and the Isle of South Uist to gain a better understanding about the implications of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) decision to close the branch in Castlebay and reduce the hours of the branch in Lochboisdale.

“With eye-watering profits and bonuses being paid to RBS Senior Executives there is no excuse for branch closures.   RBS, still majority-owned by the taxpayer, has recently been dragged through the coals by the disconcertingly hesitant Financial Conduct Authority, (who initially tried to bury the report) for its awful customer relations.

“It is time for RBS to make amends and halt these branch closures.”

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WIDESPREAD SUPPORT FOR SNP MPs ’REFUGEE FAMILY REUNION’ BILL

SNP MP Angus MacNeil has said his Private Members Bill on the treatment of refugees is a ‘humanitarian issue not a party political one’.

His comments came as his ‘Refugee Family Reunion‘ Bill is published today at Westminster, which addresses several issues about the UK’s refugee policies. It will seek to give the right to refugee children to be reunited with their parents – under current reunion rules children cannot sponsor their parents to come to the UK – thus leaving them alone here.

The Bill will also look to expand the definition of family members, as currently only spouses and children under the age of 18 are allowed to join their family in the UK, which risks young people being exploited or possibly trafficked, without that family support around them.

Angus MacNeil has already secured support from the Refugee Council, UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency, Amnesty International, the British Red Cross and Oxfam GB.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil said:

“This Private Members Bill has support from members from six parties – Government and opposition. It is not party political it is a humanitarian issue and would bring the UK into line with a majority of European countries if passed. Clearly, we can all understand the anguish people would feel from being separated from family members by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen whether deliberately or accidentally.

‘’Therefore this Bill seeks to improve the lot for people who have found themselves in the worst situation possible having fled their homeland as refugees. In short, it is the least we can do and therefore that is why I am glad of the support of so many politicians across so many parties.”

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The bill and explanatory notes can be found at: https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/refugeesfamilyreunionno2/documents.html

Holyrood Committee asked to look into impact of Tourist Office closures

Impact of Tourist Office closures greater in rural areas says MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar

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In a letter to Joan McAlpine MSP Chair of Holyrood’s Committee on Culture Tourism, Europe and External Affairs, Angus MacNeil MP has asked for the impact of the closure of Tourist Information Centres to be investigated.

Commenting Mr MacNeil said

“A 70 mile stretch of my Constituency covering a number of Islands will go from having three Tourist Information Offices to having none. Visit Scotland appear to have decided to close Tourist Offices purely on the basis of footfall without regard to the geography of the area or to the number of visitors compared to the size of the resident population.

Castlebay Tourist office had 17000 visitors in 2016 – 17 times the population of the Isle of Barra, Lochmaddy saw 6,000 visitors, more than 4 times the number of residents. With few other sources of information in these rural areas the impact on tourism could be substantial.

I have asked Joan McAlpine MSP and her Committee to look into how Visit Scotland made their decisions and the impact on tourism in remote and rural areas such as the Islands of these cuts.”

 

 

 

RBS Castlebay Branch slight reprieve

Castlebay branch to remain open until at least the end of 2018

RBS Castlebay

Isles MP, Angus MacNeil MP has received confirmation from the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) that the Castlebay branch is to remain open until at least the end of 2018.

Mr MacNeil has remained vocal in his criticism of RBS following their decision to close the branch in Castlebay and reduce to opening hours of the Lochboisdale branch.

Last week, Mr MacNeil extended an invitation to John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to HM Treasury to visit the Isle of Barra and the Isle of South Uist to gain a better understanding about the implications of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) decision to close the branch in Castlebay and reduce the hours of the branch in Lochboisdale.

Commenting on today’s announcement from RBS, Angus MacNeil MP said:

“This is a step in the right direction but we still have a long way to go.

“What we need here is complete removal of any threat of the Castlebay branch closing or reduction in the hours of the Lochboisdale branch.”

 

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Economic Secretary to HM Treasury invited to visit islands – Isles MP maintains pressure on RBS

Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil has invited John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to HM Treasury to the Isle of Barra and the Isle of South Uist to gain a better understanding about the implications of the Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) decision to close the branch in Castlebay and reduce the hours of the branch in Lochboisdale.

RBS Castlebay

Earlier this month, during a Westminster Hall debate on ‘the role of banks and their responsibility to the communities they serve’ Mr MacNeil again called on Ross McEwan, CEO of RBS to come out of hiding and face the public.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“RBS is 72 percent owned by the taxpayer and it is only right that the UK Government is aware of the enormous impact bank closures and reduced hours will have on island communities.

“Following an informal conversation, I have written to John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to HM Treasury to invite him to come to Barra and South Uist so that he can see first-hand what RBS propose to do to island communities.

“Ross McEwan, CEO of RBS appears to be unwilling to come to the islands to face loyal RBS customers – but from the signals it seems John Glen MP will accept my invitation and seems more concerned than either Ross McEwan or the RBS Chair Sir Howard Davies about RBS island customers being left without a bank.”

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Comhairle nan Eilean Siar must not block Barra Community all-weather pitch

MacNeil calls on Comhairle to approve Community Asset Transfer

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil is calling on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar not to hinder a sports facility project on Barra.

Coimhearsnachd Bharraidh and Bhatarsaidh Ltd submitted an Asset Transfer request to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for a plot of land opposite Castlebay Community School for the purpose of building a much needed all-weather pitch especially as it has been expected for years, and by some for as long as 18 years, but the Comhairle has not delivered. Now when others are stepping up the Comhairle is being an active hindrance.

This request was declined and the community is now in the process of appealing this decision.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“It is really hard to understand and difficult to explain why the Comhairle is preventing a community from building a much-needed sports facility.

“I understand that one of the reasons for refusal is that the land in question may need to be used for the purpose of siting a portacabin during the construction of Castlebay Community School, however, I am told that land is being made available by a crofter for this purpose, should it be required.

“I have written to Comhairle Leader Roddie Mackay and all councillors, the Comhairle must approve the Community Asset Transfer of this land to allow the community to benefit from an all-weather pitch. This has full support on Barra and it is bizarre that the Comhairle of all bodies should ride rough shod over the community.

“Campaigners have lived with 18 years of promises from the Comhairle.  People are not even looking to the Comhairle to fund it but to get out of the way and let it happen.

“The community has until the 30th of January for their Community Asset Transfer appeal and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar should remember they were only custodians of the King George V playing fields in Castlebay and shouldn’t act like unreasonable Victorian landlords, councillors, of course, have to ensure this.”

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Isles MP in discussions with Air Traffic Controllers in Stornoway and Benbecula

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil spoke with Air Traffic Controllers in Stornoway and Benbecula this week regarding Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd’s (HIAL) proposal to centralise the Air Traffic Control services.

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Speaking after the meeting, Mr MacNeil said: “I found out a number of things from the Air Traffic Controllers which weren’t clear from my meeting with HIAL Directors and Board members at Westminster.

“I think the level of this decision is far too big to be made at Board level. There is a huge social implication in keeping these jobs in the islands and the Scottish Government has to keep a very close eye on this and consider implications more widely than HIAL can.

“It also turns out that the cost of the investment is not £28 million as we were told but about £130 million. The numbers we were told were the net cost, which is debatable, and not the actual cost of the investment which is likely to rise.

“I feel that the best situation – socially, technically and to ensure a service at the airports – is to maintain the service we have at the moment but especially with a focus on local recruitment.

“Air Traffic Controllers who are recruited locally from the islands tend not to leave, as evidenced by Benbecula especially with zero turnover and Stornoway, where the locally recruited Air Traffic Controllers stay for many years, if not decades.”

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Isle of Harris ATM ‘not fit for purpose’ – Cardtronics regularly failing customers says Isles MP

Cardtronics, the company responsible for the ATM in Tarbert on the Isle of Harris are once again coming under fire for their inability to keep this essential service working.

ATM

Isles MP Angus MacNeil has hit out at Cardtronics in light of continued disruption to the ATM.

In the month of December, the ATM only worked for 10 days.  So far in 2018, the ATM has been out of action from 5th to 12th January, and Mr MacNeil has received further reports that on Monday 15th January the ATM once again stopped dispensing cash.

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“This is a truly shoddy service from Cardtronics.

“Lloyds Banking Group transferred this ATM to Cardtronics and at that time, Lloyds stated that ‘it was important to them that Tarbert, Isle of Harris receives an improved and more consistent level of service from the ATM, and that they have ensured the new provider was able to demonstrate the standard of service they’d provide, which we have seen through their existing ATM in Stornoway.’  In the case of the ATM in Tarbert, Cardtronics are absolutely not providing an improved service.

“During the month of December the ATM only worked for 10 days and so far in 2018, it has only worked for 7 days.  An island cannot expect to manage without an ATM.  North Harris Community Council have contacted Cardtronics on numerous occasions but Cardtronics sadly do not appear to be interested.

“The people of Harris deserve a much better service and with the tourist season approaching, something must be done to bring about improvements to the ATM.

“In addition to contacting Cardtronics, I will also be making Lloyds Banking Group aware of the situation with this ATM.”

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MacNeil calls on RBS to stop hiding and face the public

Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil is calling on Ross McEwan, CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to come out of hiding and face customers in Barra.

RBS has responded to Mr MacNeil’s letter stating that they would not be re-visiting their decision to close the Castlebay branch in June 2018.

Today, Mr MacNeil spoke at a Westminster Hall debate on the role of banks and their responsibility to the communities they serve.

AB WM Hall debate on banking 11 Jan 2018

Commenting after the debate Angus MacNeil MP said:

“Instead of coming to Barra to meet customers, Ross McEwan CEO of RBS sent a representative who dodged in and out of the island on Friday 5 January.

“RBS say that they have considered the matter carefully but that they will not be re-visiting their decision yet they have not consulted with their customers nor carried out an economic impact assessment of their decision to close the Castlebay branch.

“The RBS should drop Scotland from their name, such is the contempt they are showing our country.

“An eye-watering £16million was paid in bonuses to RBS Senior Executives, this would pay the wages of the staff at the Castlebay branch for about 266 years that is the level of greed we are seeing here and not just greed but cowardice and irresponsibility.

“Ross McEwan and the RBS need to have the courage of their convictions and meet with islanders.

“At the debate, I asked John Glen MP Economic Secretary to the Treasury if consent was sought. Who is in charge?  Is the bank owned by the Government or do the bankers own the Government?  The UK Government cannot play Pontius Pilate with this issue.”

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Spaceport – Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation & Energy accepts invitation from Isles MP to visit Uist

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil is pleased that Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy has accepted his invitation to visit Uist to look at the opportunities a Hebrides spaceport could bring to Uist.

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Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“Uist is facing very challenging times in terms of job opportunities and steps need to be taken to reverse the decline in employment.

“I am pleased that Mr Wheelhouse has accepted my invitation to come to Uist and meet with key stakeholders to discuss the economic benefits which could arise from locating the spaceport in Uist.

“A date for this meeting has yet to be finalised but this is a welcome first step. Finally, I am grateful to Joe MacPhee and those at the Economic Development Department at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for their work in driving this initiative forward and their anticipated continued engagement.”

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