AN OAP has launched a last-ditch bid to persuade bank bosses not to close her local branch.

Elizabeth Conran says losing The Co-operative Bank branch in Barnard Castle is another example of services being stripped from rural areas.

The 74-year-old initially wrote to the bank to express her concerns when the closure plan was unveiled last November as part of proposals by The Co-operative to axe 15 per cent of its branches by the end of 2014 following a merger with Britannia.

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Unhappy with the reply she received, Mrs Conran decided to launch a petition in the town which she hopes will lead to a change of mind.

She said: “This is Teesdale, not Teesside. The nearest business centres are over 15 miles away and much further for people living in upper Teesdale.

“Internet speeds are slow and many older people do not have computers at all.”

Mrs Conran added: “Teesdale and other rural areas are being stripped. Everything is leaving rural areas and being centred in towns.

“How do people from Middleton-in-Teesdale get to their bank? It is a day's expedition to Darlington.”

She has already collected more than 100 signatures for the petition and hopes other supporters will sign up.

Mrs Conran, who lives in Barnard Castle, has also taken her campaign to local MP Helen Goodman.

“People share my concerns about this,” she said.

A spokesman for The Co-operative Bank said the decision to close its Banard Castle branch had not been taken lightly.

“We understand that the closure of our Barnard Castle branch is disappointing,” he said.

“We are committed to supporting impacted customers and maintaining our highest levels of service.

“We have written to customers with our Barnard Castle branch directly with further details about alternative channels they can use to service their accounts in advance of the closure.

“As we re-focus our business we will be investing in self-service and digital channels in order to provide our customers with new ways to service their accounts.”

Supporters can sign Mrs Conran's petition at Curlew's Bookshop, in Market Place, Barnard Castle, or the rear office of the Teesdale Mercury newsagents, also in Market Place.