July 8, 2019 @ 13:03 by Steven Hugill
A building society has announced plans to provide a new community branch in North Yorkshire.
Newcastle Building Society is in discussions to launch a base in the Upper Wensleydale Community Office, in Hawes.
The proposed move comes as Hawes faces the loss of its last bank and is part of a wider strategy from the mutual to deliver a step-change in services, which includes increasing its branch network.
Bosses say the investment is part of a long-term commitment to the provision of face-to-face local financial services and advice across its region.
Hawes is the first of a number of additional, creative new locations that the mutual expects to announce this year.
Andrew Haigh, chief executive at Newcastle Building Society, 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.”
Hawes has become renowned for its self-reliance and community grit.
In the face of the withdrawal of a raft of local services, under the leadership of Hawes resident and independent North Yorkshire county councillor John Blackie, the town, has over the past 15 to 20 years, become a symbol for how towns and high streets can transform and thrive in the face of changing times and funding challenges.
It boasts a bus service, library, police station, community petrol station, post office and information centre, which is run largely with the help of a team of 70 volunteers.
Councillor Blackie said: “We wholeheartedly welcome the arrival of Newcastle Building Society, which will fully complement our existing range of services.
“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.”