The village has lost all its bank branches, with Lloyds the last one to close earlier this year.

But Barclays, which closed its branch in Ponteland in January 2019, has announced that its ‘Barclays Van’ will be stationed at Ponteland Memorial Hall every Thursday between 9.30am and 3.30pm from September 29.

Although access to cash still needs to be at the post office, staff will be on hand to discuss account queries and they have also been trained to discuss general financial topics – which is becoming more important given the cost-of-living crisis.

Guy Opperman, Christine Caisley and Barclays representatives, including Geoff Watson, outside the Barclays Van.

Local MP Guy Opperman has contacted various banks after launching a campaign calling for better access to physical banking facilities in his constituency.

He said: “I’m delighted that after months of campaigning, we have been able to find a solution to help the 10,000-strong community of Ponteland and due credit to Barclays for listening to us – the other banks didn’t.

“It’s great that there is a fixed location each week so people can have regular one-to-one contact with knowledgeable staff and build up a relationship with them.”

A ‘Stop the Closure’ online petition in relation to Lloyds was set-up by Ponteland resident Christine Caisley and it was signed by more than 500 people.

She said: “It’s fantastic that the Barclays Van will be in a prime Ponteland location every week.

“A lot of people in our community won’t do internet banking and even telephone banking is not easy for them, so it’s important for them to have face-to-face contact.

“This is a small measure in terms of what is needed overall in Ponteland, but hopefully it will lead to other banks doing the same thing.”

As well as answering questions, the Barclays Van team have a proactive element in terms of educating people about how they can do banking from their own home and important topics such as budget planning, scams to look out for and online security – which is also available to non-customers.

Geoff Watson, Barclays customer care director for Northumberland and Durham, said: “We feel that we do need to have a physical presence, particularly in rural areas, and our vans are more inviting to people than bank branches with glass counters and bars on the windows.”

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