RBS scraps plans to close Norwich mortgage centre

Nearly 300 jobs have been saved at a Norwich-based mortgage centre after banking bosses reversed a decision to close it.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) was looking to close its city operation at Amsterdam Place, near Norwich International Airport, as part of a restructure announced last year which would have seen the loss of 3,500 jobs nationwide at the bank, which is 84pc owned by the taxpaper.

The Norwich site was one of 12 across the country earmarked for closure in 2012.

But yesterday staff were given the news that the bank had reversed the decision, saving 261 jobs, along with other centres in Nottingham and Liverpool, which had also been spared the axe.

The closure plans had been bitterly opposed by members of the Unite union and union leaders welcomed the decision adding that its campaign agains the plans had helped force through the rethink.

But the bank insisted the reversal followed a year-long business review which also indicated that there had been growth in the number of mortgages being processed at the centre amid signs that demand for its services would remain 'high for the foreseeable future'.

An RBS spokesman said: 'We announced last September that we would be reducing the number of sites we operate from, and that regrettably this would lead to job losses. We identified the sites that would close over the next two years and Norwich was identified as one of these potential closures. We have today communicated to staff in Norwich that a decision has been taken and that the group will be maintaining its presence in Norwich.'

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David Fleming, Unite national officer, said the union opposed the closures because of the devastating impact it would have had on the local community.

It also argued that there was a clear business case, with sufficient work volumes, to maintain the staffing levels.

'Unite is extremely pleased that the Royal Bank of Scotland has listened to the concerns of staff and reversed its planned site closures,' he said adding that the reprieve for the three centres would save 940 jobs.

'This news is a significant boost to the RBS workforce in Norwich, Nottingham and Liverpool after many months of uncertainty,' he added. 'Unite has been working tirelessly to challenge the bank on these job losses and the announcement to save these jobs is to be welcomed. We only regret that the staff had to endure such a stressful period while this decision was changed.'

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith also welcomed the reprieve decision.

'In the current climate any safeguarding of local jobs is very positive,' she said.

Last month RBS reported losses of �1.4bn in the first half of the year, a result it blamed on the financial crisis engulfing the Eurozone and the bill for meeting claims against the misselling of personal protection insurance.

But bank group chief executive Stephen Hester said improved operating profits on the bank of the restructuring plans demonstrated that the business had proved to be 'resiliant in challenging marketing conditions.'