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Business & Economy

Newcastle Building Society plans new Wooler community branch

Newcastle Building Society and the Glendale Gateway Trust have agreed an intention to establish a community branch in Wooler.

Wooler has been without banking services since 2018.

The intention of the partnership is to have a fully functioning community branch in place by the end of the year, conveniently based in the established Cheviot Centre community hub that boasts tourist information services, a library and community meeting spaces.

The Glendale Gateway Trust is a community development trust set up to support one of the most sparsely populated areas of the country. With a population of just 6000 people, Glendale covers 250 miles of rural Northumberland.

The Trust has been active in creating significant improvements in the town, buying up neglected buildings to create modern and attractive affordable homes, promoting rural business development, and managing a community and business centre offering small business facilities and office pods for start-up businesses to rent.

The proposed partnership with Newcastle Building Society to bring financial services back to the town is part of a wider picture of the Trust’s successful regeneration and improvement programme, which has already rejuvenated a picturesque high street, and delivered an effective approach to building community sustainability.

For Newcastle Building Society, the move is part of a wider strategy to create a step-change in how it delivers its services to towns and communities in the North East, Cumbria and North Yorkshire.

Creatively re-imagining its branch locations and adapting its approach to suit local needs, while increasing its branch network at a time when many banks and building societies are reducing their high street presence, is part of a long-term commitment to the provision of face-to-face local financial services and financial advice across its regions.

Wooler is the second in a number of additional, creative, new locations Newcastle Building Society expects to announce this year.

The society revealed a new community branch for Hawes in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, earlier this week.

Andrew Haigh, Newcastle Building Society chief executive, said: “We are convinced the high street has an important role to play at the heart of our communities and have been investing significantly in improving our existing branch network and in thinking creatively around how we can be physically present in communities that are struggling to access the financial services they need.

“Working closely with the Glendale Gateway Trust to deliver face-to-face financial services and financial advice for the benefit of Wooler is part of our wider strategy that puts our emphasis on growing a bright and sustainable future hand-in-hand with local people.

“Alongside that we’ve been focusing on other ways we can add real value to local communities, such as our growing Dementia Friends awareness programme, which is something we are incredibly proud of.”

Patrick Sheard, chair of Glendale Gateway Trust, added: “The Trust is committed to making life better for the people of Glendale.

“The current trend to move provision of services to larger, more central towns can leave rural populations such as ours feeling isolated and neglected.

“When the last bank closed in Wooler, residents were faced with a round trip of 40 miles to access banking services.

“We are delighted that our proposed partnership with Newcastle Building Society will bring financial services provision back within walking distance of the majority of residents.

“This move reinforces the significance of the Cheviot Centre as a community hub at the centre of life in Glendale and is a huge vote of confidence in the economic well-being of our town.”