Barclays has announced that it will be closing two of its banks in north Northumberland later this year.
The branch in Rothbury will shut on Friday, November 2, while Wooler’s will close on Thursday, November 8.
Barclays has confirmed that there will be no job losses and staff will be deployed to other branches in Northumberland.
In relation to ATM services, Barclays says it intends to leave the cash point in Rothbury as there is no other free-to-use facility in the village.
This ATM could be at the existing location or at a local alternative. There may also be a short period after closure when there is no ATM as it looks to install a new facility.
But in Wooler, the ATM will not be retained, as there are a number of other free-to-use cash points in the village.
A spokeswoman for Barclays said: “The way customers undertake their banking is changing as people increasingly use online, telephone and mobile devices.
“At Barclays Rothbury and Wooler branches, customer usage has continued to decline and nearly half of our customers now regularly use alternative branches, which is why we have taken the difficult decision to close them.
“We hope that the availability of our other Barclays branches at Alnwick and Berwick and access to services at the local Post Offices located at Rothbury and Wooler, along with our range of digital channels, will help to ease the transition for our customers.”
Rothbury county councillor Steven Bridgett described the news as ‘a hammer for rural life and yet another nail in our rural coffin’, while Wooler ward member Anthony Murray said it was ‘dreadful, awful and very bad news, leaving Wooler without a high-street bank’.
Last year, Barclays closed its bank in Amble, while Alnwick lost its HSBC and Yorkshire Building Society branches, and the Bank of Scotland closed in Wooler.
Barclays said that it does not take the decision to close any branch lightly and it is committed to adhering to the UK Access to Banking Standard.
Barclays said that all of its customers will receive a letter, the decision to close document and posters will be displayed in the impacted branches and colleagues will be on hand to assist customers with any concerns they may have.
The bank added that it will be proactively engaging with local businesses and the wider community to discuss the alternative ways customers will be able to undertake their banking locally and customers are able to undertake everyday transactions at the Post Office.
Barclays added: “We urge any customer who is concerned about how to undertake their banking once the branches close to contact us so that we can discuss alternative banking options.
“We will look to host ‘teach and teach’ sessions individually or in a group for any customer wishing to explore digital banking.”
Reacting to the news, Coun Bridgett said: “While I am not surprised that the bank is closing – particularly after the closures in Corbridge and Amble last year – I am deeply saddened for the staff who have served our communities so well for so many decades.
“I shall be writing to Barclays asking for the assurance that staff will be redeployed within Barclays.
“With regards to banking at Barclays, I shall be encouraging all of the community organisations that I am involved with to transfer their banking to either the village’s Lloyds branch or the Post Office.
“I have spoken to Lloyds about putting extra staff and advisors in place to help residents who wish to transfer their accounts to Lloyds.
“I don’t see why our communities should be prepared to invest with Barclays, if they are not prepared to invest in our communities and I would encourage residents who currently bank with Barclays to do the same.
“I am pleased that Barlcays has recognised that their ATM is the only one and will seek to maintain the ATM service in either its current position or in an alternative location in the village.”
Coun Murray added: “It is awful news. There is the Post Office but it will mean that Wooler will not have a high-street bank. A lot of people – residents and local businesses – rely on having a bank in the high street and a lot of work has gone in to building up the high street with good shops and services.”
Northumberland’s other Barclays branches are Alnwick, Seahouses, Morpeth, Berwick, Ashington, Blyth, Cramlington and Ponteland.