THE Co-Operative Bank is to close two of its branches in the region.

Customers of the Darlington branch, on Duke Street, have been informed of the closure on May 3 by letter.

The Consett branch will also shut on May 23, in a phased programme of 27 branch closures across the country.

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The bank said the move was a 'response to a continued change in how customers choose to bank' and in the past year more and more customers had switched to internet banking and transactions in branch had decreased.

The branch closures were 'a result of careful analysis of footfall', it said.

Staff and unions are in consultation and the bank said it was hoping to keep the number of redundancies down by redeploying employees were possible.

Heather Lauder, Chief Banking Operations Director at The Co-operative Bank, said: “This decision has not been taken lightly and we realise this may be difficult news for some colleagues. Like many banks, the proposal reflects changes in the way our customers are choosing to bank with us."

She said digital services were being improved, with investment in web chat, secure messaging and by introducing services like Apple Pay and equivalents.

Both the Darlington and Consett branches are within a mile of Post Office branches, where she said customers 'could undertake most day to day transactions'.