12:33pm Monday 17th December 2012
By Steven Hugill
A BANKING group will shut a popular Darlington branch in January.
Barclays Bank is to close in West Auckland Road, Cockerton, on January 4, forcing hundreds of customers to make a four-mile round trip to use its recently-revamped branch in High Row, Darlington.
The company said no jobs will be lost and staff will be transferred to High Row.
It blamed the closure on falling customers at Cockerton, and said people could also use its branches in Newton Aycliffe and Yarm.
The move to close Cockerton was revealed in October, and has left bank users extremely upset.
Lynne Davidson, 56, of Auckland Avenue, Darlington, said she had used Barclays all her life.
However, she believed the closure could force people away from the company.
She said: “It will be a sad day when it closes because the bank has been used by so many people.
“Those who make the decisions have no respect for pensioners because this branch was convenient for them.
“High Row will be like too many cooks spoiling the broth with all the extra customers queueing for longer.”
Barclays said its grade-II listed High Row branch has undergone a significant refurbishment to cater for increased customers.
However, Darlington Borough Council did reject plans in September to fit a new disabled ramp outside the bank, saying it would have had a disastrous effect on the area.
A spokeswoman for Barclays said it was disappointed at having to close the branch, but assured customers they would still receive the same service in High Row.
She said: “The majority of staff will be transferring to High Row so that Cockerton customers will have familiar faces serving them.
“This decision has not been taken lightly and we appreciate it may inconvenience some customers.
“The branch has seen consistently declining customer numbers in recent years, meaning it isn't sustainable to keep open, and by merging the branches we can provide a fuller service at High Row.
“Customers can use post offices for paying in and withdrawing money and we will work hard to minimise the impact and make the transition as smooth as possible.”
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