TALKS are under way to establish a “banking hub” in Barnard Castle following the decision of Barclays to close their branch in the town, the last bank in Teesdale.

This is a huge issue for so many of our rural communities as the banks retreat, and we need to find a way to fill the hole they leave.

Our banking hub is likely to be along the same lines as the Newton Aycliffe hub on the parade in the town centre which opened in December in the former TSB building. It is permanently staffed by the Post Office five days a week, with five of the major banks each providing in turn one of their staff members for private consultation on their designated day of the week.

I and another local councillor, Ted Henderson, called a public meeting earlier this year which unanimously agreed that the two of us, plus Ted’s Durham County Council colleague Richard Bell, form a working party to achieve a banking hub in Barney. We also want to see an ATM cash machine to replace the one at Barclays which is to be removed, the only one in the town with 24-hour access.

While I have been looking at existing banking hubs, including the one at Middleton-in-Teesdale which operates at UTASS two days a week, and also possible premises in Barney, Ted and Richard have been busy making contact with Barclays, Cash Access UK and our MP Dehenna Davison. We very much hope that vital meetings will be arranged soon.

Barclays have topped the list of recent UK branch closures. In 2022, 184 Barclays branches closed out a total of 662 closed banks. In 2023, it was 180 out of 645, and another 90 Barclays closures are scheduled of 249 projected for this year. In the last eight years, around 5,000 bank branches have closed, half the national total.

The number of free-to-use ATM cash machines has also halved from a peak of 55,000. Most are only available during shopping hours.

Currently 67 banking hubs are already established or are being set up in the UK. Newton Aycliffe is the first in the North East with five-day access, with Richmond and Northallerton soon to follow. In all it is expected that ultimately there will be 1,000 across the country.

The Post Office already provides a number of banking services, including withdrawing cash from your usual bank account, paying cash into your account, checking your bank balance and withdrawing cash. You need to use your bank card, with a paying-in slip if required. These services are free to customers of 28 banks, covering 99 per cent of UK customers.

The services the PO cannot provide are opening new products, setting up standing orders, reporting a lost or stolen bank card, and getting personalised advice.

Our campaign had a huge boost last week when the town council unanimously agreed to support our plans.

You can help establish a hub in Barney by sending me a letter expressing your views about the sudden decision of Barclays to close their branch. I am collecting these to hand on to Barclays. You can write to me at or 37 Dawson Road, Barnard Castle DL12 8JZ.

For updates on the progress of our campaign, email me to go on our contact list.

  • Chris Foote-Wood is a member of Barnard Castle Town Council