Requests from local people have led to the North East’s biggest building society announcing an extension to the opening hours of its Stokesley branch.
Newcastle Building Society’s branch on Stokesley’s High Street is now open between 9am and 1pm on Saturdays.
In contrast to other large financial institutions which are removing their local presence, the Society is also planning to upgrade the Stokesley branch next year, as part of a multi-million pound investment programme in its wider branch network.
After holding an open event at Stokesley Library earlier this year to discuss the impact of local bank closures, the Society decided to pilot Saturday opening on a trial basis after people at the meeting highlighted the importance of being able to access face-to-face financial services at times which fit in with their personal or business requirements.
A recent industry report found that 46% of shop owners blame the loss of a local bank branch in the last three years for negatively impacting their business, while 24% said it contributed to them going out of business within the last five years.
Around 36% of consumers also said they would make fewer visits to their town or village once their local bank branch closed.
Stuart Miller, customer director at Newcastle Building Society, says: “The provision of face-to-face financial advice and services on the High Street is vital to supporting sustainable local communities.
“At a time when many financial institutions are closing branches in towns across the region, we remain fully committed to keeping our branch network right at the heart of both our operations and local communities.
“The strong turn out that we had to our event showed just how closely our approach chimed with Stokesley residents who work through the week and want the opportunity to speak to someone directly about their particular needs.
“We withdrew Saturday opening in Stokesley a few years ago due to a lack of demand, but the feedback we had from local people at our event and in the branch itself has been so strong and we felt that reintroducing it would benefit both ourselves and the community.
“The investment that will soon be coming to the Stokesley branch will ensure local customers have access to even better services and facilities that they should rightly demand of a modern financial institution like ourselves, and we’ll be announcing full details of our plans closer to the time.”