COMMUNITY leaders are calling on a bank to reconsider its decision to close a branch in a north Durham village.

Lloyds has announced plans to shut its office in Annfield Plain, near Stanley.

The company has said only 32 customers a week use the branch and 88 per cent of customers in Annfield Plain use other branches.

But the area’s Durham County Councillors and North Durham MP Kevan Jones are campaigning to have it kept open.

Cllr Thomas Nearney said: “I am very disappointed by the proposed closure of this Lloyds branch, particularly as the community received assurances less than one year ago that the company had no intentions of closing this much-valued community asset.

“The decision has lacked any form of consultation or formal process of considering viable alternatives.

“For me, this appears to be nothing more than a desk-based exercise, without any real consideration of the impact it will have on our area.

“I urge Lloyds to reconsider this erroneous decision, and ask all local Lloyds customers to make their feelings known to the company.”

Lloyds has said customers can withdraw money or check their balance, as well as pay in cheques and cash to their account at any Post Office branch.

Cllr Michelle Hodgson fears the move could adversely affect the success of small businesses in the area.

She said: “I also am concerned about the access to the Post Office for disabled and elderly clients, and we know via the council, that access to the internet is limited within the community so the only option is to travel to Stanley or Consett on public transport and the fares are not the cheapest.”

Kevan Jones said closing the branch would be a ‘real inconvenience’ to people in the area.

He said: “The recent announcement that Lloyds will be closing their branch in Annfield Plain is disappointing because I was assured as recently as last year that a reduction in opening hours had been necessary to protect the future of the branch.”

Lloyds announced a three year programme of branch closures in October 2014 with the Annfield Plain office due to shut on June 9.

A spokesman for the firm said: “We have made the difficult decision to close this branch because of the changing way customers choose to bank with us, which has resulted in customers using it less often.

“Customers can continue to use any other branch in our network and the local Post Office is a short distance away where customers can manage their day-to-day banking needs.”