BANK bosses are considering a U-turn on plans to close 62 branches across Scotland.
Ten banks in the Highlands are under threat - including Tongue and Tain - as part of plans to shut 259 RBS and NatWest branches in the UK.
The proposals have sparked a fierce backlash in communities and from politicians, who say the banking giant has a moral obligation to keep branches open as 70 per cent of the company is taxpayer owned, following the public bail out of 2008.
If all of the closures go ahead, it will leave some towns will be left with no bank at all but it is hoped that an announcement will be made this week to protect some of the branches.
Highland MP and Westminster SNP leader Ian Blackford said he has been in “productive talks” with RBS bosses about saving some threatened branches but it is too early to confirm which ones.
Nairn, Aviemore, Beauly, Grantown, Inverness Queensgate, Tain, Tongue, Wick, Kyle of Lochalsh and Mallaig all face the axe.
Mr Blackford, who represents Ross, Skye and Lochaber, said: “I have had a number of conversations and meetings with RBS over the course of the last few weeks.
“I have been encouraged by the positive note of these talks and they are ongoing but I hope that we are close to a resolution that can give hope to a number of communities that their branches can remain open.”
The Scottish Affairs select committee, made up of MPs, has also been investigating the issue and Mr Blackford has been criticised by Labour and Conservative MPs for “undermining” the work of the body. However, a spokesman for the committee declined to comment on the claims.
Unite union Scotland secretary Pat Rafferty called on RBS to make a decision on the closures as soon as possible.
He said: “Unite Scotland welcomes what appears to be a change in heart by those at the top of RBS to reverse some of its bank closures.
“What we are dealing with here are real communities and real lives.
“At stake is the future of communities across Scotland and literally hundreds of jobs.
“RBS should now end the speculation and confirm exactly what its new plans are. It’s time for RBS to do the right thing and act like the Royal Bank for Scotland that they now claim to be.”