The Royal Bank of Scotland has guaranteed that the bank’s branch in Castlebay - Barra's only bank branch - will stay open until at least the end of this year.

However, its long-term future remains in doubt after the announcement yesterday. (Tuesday February 6)

Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan has warmly welcomed the news.  “RBS got it badly wrong when they moved to close their branch in Barra.

"The local response has been, rightly, furious as this closure would have left people in Barra with their nearest bank some 27 miles away, across the Sound of Barra on the Isle of South Uist," he said.

“RBS have had to go back in their tracks, first by accepting the need for an ATM on the island, and now by guaranteeing the branch will stay open at least until the end of the year.”

The Barra branch was originally one of 62 across Scotland that was due to close in this summer.

However, RBS have today committed to keeping 10 branches open until at least the end of 2018, and will reconsider the closure of each branch as part of a full independent review.

Dr Allan continued: “This latest move does not take away the question mark about the long-term future of the branch, and I will continue to engage with RBS to make sure it has one.

“This has been a successful campaign by the community and its SNP elected representatives to keep the branch open.

“Today’s U-turn by RBS is an indication of the pressure that has been put on the bank, following their ill-thought out move. We must continue to work to ensure it stays open.”

Isles MP, Angus MacNeil remains vocal in his criticism of the bank, following the initial decision to close the Castlebay branch and reduce opening hours of the Lochboisdale branch.

Mr MacNeil 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.”

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 RBS decision.