THE Leader of North Ayrshire Council has called on Kilwinning’s last bank building to be handed over to the community after its mooted closure in June.

The RBS branch in the town and in neighbouring Saltcoats and Kilbirnie were earmarked for closure last year by RBS bosses and it looks like there will be no u-turn, despite efforts from locals and across the political spectrum.

Cllr Cullinane made the proposition after a meeting with bank bosses about their planned closure of the town’s branch.

The meeting had been organised by Councillor Cullinane to discuss the proposed closure with an invitation extended to the town’s other councillors to attend and participate.

At the meeting, RBS were adamant that they would not negotiate on the closure of the branch.

The four Kilwinning councillors expressed their disappointment about the bank’s proposal and during the hour long discussion with the bank bosses asked questions on the mobile banking van service, the introduction of a community banking officer and the banks contract with the Post Office.

Councillor Cullinane pressed them on the future of the branch building.

Initially RBS advised that they would seek to sell the building at auction but when pressed on what their fall-back position would be should they not secure a sale they conceded that in other areas of the country they have agreed leases at ‘peppercorn rates’ to ensure the building is in use and not left empty.

Speaking after sending his proposition to RBS in writing, the Council Leader said; “RBS is 71 per cent owned by UK taxpayers and I am bitterly disappointed that they simply reaffirmed their unwillingness to negotiate with anyone on the closure of branches.

“They may have sought to reassure us that the mobile banking van and a new community banker will be available to support customers but I have many concerns about the ability of these services to actually meet the banking needs of local residents not least given the fact that the van does not have disabled access.

“If the branch does close then RBS need to consider what legacy they will be leaving behind. Do they want to leave the same legacy as the Clydesdale Bank - an empty building in the heart of Kilwinning Main Street?

“RBS do not need the money from selling the building. That much is clear. Why not make it their starting point and commit to working with the community to secure community ownership and the delivery of a service that the community wants and needs.”