Charity loses out on new premises

The former RBS branch in Cleland
The former RBS branch in Cleland

A Lanarkshire charity believes they were misled by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in their bid to secure new premises.

Lanarkshire Cancer Care Trust (LCCT) had been looking to relocate from Wishaw to the RBS bank building in Cleland which the company had earmarked for closure.

During discussions between the charity and the bank LCCT claim they were told how much to bid for the property by RBS, however subsequently discovered a higher bid from a commercial business had been accepted.

A statement from the LCCT board said: “In light of the very positive communication from representatives of RBS regarding their vacant premises in Cleland, it is extremely disappointing to learn that we have not been successful in our offer to purchase these.

All board members and staff are beyond disappointment and are totally disheartened by our failure to secure these premises.

“Whilst the bid submitted by the Trust was we believe not the highest bid, it was the amount suggested by RBS.

“During initial discussions with the RBS representative they indicated that their intention was to ensure that the premises would be utilised for the benefit of the community.

“Given that our free service is of benefit to a wide community we hoped that our good work would have be recognised by RBS.

“RBS informed the Trust that the premises would be used as business headquarters for a company and would therefore bring employment to the area.

“Had the Trust been successful in securing these premises, the benefit of the service would have been shared by an even wider part of the community.

“It was the Trust’s intention to expand the service and to recruit staff.”

RBS says they never advised LCCT what to bid, just what the building was worth, but have offered to help them find alternative premises.

A spokesperson said: “The bank accepted a bid for the branch from a Lanarkshire-based company that will move its HQ to Cleland, bringing jobs and business to the town.

“The offer was significantly more than the amount the Trust offered and RBS has a responsibility to taxpayers to ensure we realise our assets to repay the bailout we received.

“We were clear throughout the sales process that we have a duty to shareholders to openly market the property and at no point did we advise on how much to bid.”

“However we also acknowledge we need to ensure we work with communities across the UK when we close branches.

“We are offering the Trust the use of our property agents for the next six months, who will search for new premises and support them with the acquisition if a suitable location can be found.”

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland is angered the Trust were outbid.

He said: “This is disappointing for LCCT, who were given the impression RBS were eager to see them take over the premises.

“As it turned out, LCCT had been led up the garden path only to discover the gate was locked, which is a great pity, as this would have been a big boost to LCCT, who are finding it difficult to run their service in the current premises.

“The offer of help to find other premises is not much consolation, they got a very similar offer that has not led anywhere after NHS Lanarkshire decided accommodation within Wishaw General would not be made available.

“Suitable premises are not easy to find, but now the search must go on.”