"THE county town of North Yorkshire deserves better" was the verdict on plans by Virgin Money to close down its Northallerton branch.

News of the closure comes just a few weeks after the town's HSBC branch shut and amid mounting concern over problems at the town centre Post Office, where opening hours have just been cut, and complaints that queues are running the length of the W H Smith shop where it is based.

Virgin Money, which took over the former Yorkshire Bank branch, will close on January 7 next year. It is one of 30 being closed across the country. The company say the move is down to increasing numbers of customers using online banking, which has been further accelerated by the pandemic.

In its announcement, the firm said the vast majority of closed branches are less than a third of a mile away from the nearest post office.

But in Northallerton, concerns have been growing over queues and restricted opening at the High Street Post Office. Others at Romanby and Brompton have closed.

One longstanding Virgin Money customer said news of the closure of the recently rebranded former Yorkshire Bank branch in Northallerton was "very disappointing".

"I have been a customer since I was five years old – now my business is through that bank," she said. "It’s very important for customers to be able to go into a branch for face to face support. Staff in the Northallerton branch have helped me on more than one occasion, including stopping fraudulent transactions on my account when I was put under pressure by scammers."

Many people have complained about the Post Office, which is now only open until 2pm, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, until 3pm on Monday and 4.30pm on Saturday. One said: "I was in about 12.30 and it was ridiculous. I was third in the queue and it took 20 minutes, the queue was right up the shop."

Another added: "Absolutely disgraceful. My post office in Appleton Wiske has longer opening hours with just two members of staff. It’s shameful that the county town of North Yorkshire has only got a part time post office."

Northallerton county councillor David Blades said in 2016 WH Smith did a deal to take over 61 Post Offices around the country. He added: “It looks like they have undertaken further deals with the banks to accept face to face banking at the Post Offices, resulting in elderly people without online facilities having to put up with long queues through no fault of their own.

"Our county town deserves better financial services than a small counter at the rear of a High Street shop."