RESIDENTS of two rural towns that have been deprived of bank services can look forward to the opening of new Newcastle Building Society branches.

The company is creating a new open plan branch at 36 High Street in Stokesley as part of an ongoing multi-million pound investment programme across the whole of its branch network.

The Society’s existing branch at 19 High Street will remain open as usual until the new branch is ready at the end of July.

This week the company also announced it is in discussions to launch a branch based in the Upper Wensleydale Community Office in Hawes.

This represents the first of a number of new creative locations that the firm expects to be operating from throughout this year.

Chief executive Andrew Haigh said: “We share the same core values with the town of Hawes, including a belief in the importance of taking action to create positive change.

"As a building society we believe in the role of the high street at the heart of our communities and have been working hard and investing significantly in delivering a network of modern branches across our region and in thinking creatively about how we can add value to local communities.

"This is at the heart of our strategy in growing a bright and sustainable future hand in hand with local people and we are thrilled to be planning our move into the beautiful town of Hawes.”

Upper Dales councillor John Blackie said: "We wholeheartedly welcome the arrival of Newcastle Building Society who will fully complement our existing range of services, delivered locally for the benefit of the local communities in the Upper Dales.

"The news of the opening of their community branch will offset the feeling of being left in isolation from financial services and advice that was set off by the impending loss of the last bank in town.”

He added: “I must thank North Yorkshire County Council as owner of the community office for also welcoming Newcastle Building Society.

"The council see the great benefits of having the Society set up in Hawes.

"Indeed the news is already creating an air of excitement everywhere and there is a discernible buzz spinning around the town.”

In Stokesley, which saw three of its main bank branches close within 12-months, work is already under way at the new branch, with Stokesley-based Prodrive Shopfitting chosen as the main contractor for the project.

Staff from the existing branch will move across to their new home over the weekend before it opens to ensure customers retain access to a local branch at all times.

Stuart Miller, customer director of Newcastle Building Society, said: “We’ve chosen a vibrant, busy location for our new Stokesley branch that is easily accessible to customers and are looking forward to providing local customers with improved access to services in a high quality environment.

“The reaction we’ve had from customers in locations where we’ve already opened new branches or carried out upgrades to existing offices has been really positive, and we think our Stokesley customers will very much enjoy them too."