MORE than 170 people signed up to protest the planned closure of a bank branch.

Campaigner Elizabeth Conran launched a petition against the Co-operative/Britannia Bank's proposal to shut its branch in Barnard Castle, County Durham, saying it was another example of services being stripped from rural areas.

Mrs Conran, who lives in the town, said that while she didn't expect the bank to change its mind, the petition had been a worthwhile exercise.

“Some 173 people signed it. They came from Barnard Castle, and 26 other communities around Teesdale.

“I also tried to strengthen my arguments for retaining the branch in Barnard Castle. Internet access is not a good option in some places.”

She added: “I don't expect any progress. The branch is already scaling down its staff and displays, before the official closure date, but it was worth a try.

“Organisations based in cities have no concept of the limitations of rural life.”

The bank acknowledges the closure is disappointing for customers but says it is committed to supporting those affected and maintaining high levels of service.