BANKING has never been so easy thanks to the rapid development of technology.

Most of your banking needs can now be done over the phone or on the internet, and the need to pop into your local branch has all but vanished.

As a result of interactive banking, a record number of banks have closed in the past year.

According to data released by the labour market statistics site Nomis, a total of 5,765 branches have closed throughout the UK since 2010. A record number of 600 shut their doors in the past 12 months – the equivalent to almost 12 a week.

Together with a stark rise in the number of cashpoints disappearing – at the alarming rate of 300 a month nationally – many communities are struggling with a lack of banking facilities.

While village post offices have benefited by taking over some of the lost facilities, accessibility to banking servies is impacting the lives of many people in more rural parts of Tynedale, particularly older people.

Until recently, Bellingham and the surrounding North Tyne villages were served by both Barclays and Lloyds banks.

However, both banks have now closed and the area is served by a mobile van provided by Lloyds once a week. Between 10am and 1pm on Wednesdays, the van parks in the layby near the Cheviot Hotel in Bellingham.

Ken Gaskin, who runs Lyndale guesthouse in the village, said that many local people had been inconvenienced by the lack of banking facilities.

He said: “For us, it is a damn nuisance. For a rural community like this, it is so difficult to get a bus to Hexham to do our banking.

“A lot of older people are wary of interactive banking and they may not be so mobile, so getting public transport to travel 18 miles isn’t ideal.

“Not having a bank makes life that little bit harder, and it is a big inconvenience.

“Luckily we have a card reader and BACS system at the guesthouse, but if somebody wants to pay by cheque, we have to go to the post office, which then sends it to the bank. The delay can be a pain.”

The village of Corbridge has been without a bank for more than a year after both its banks closed within months of each other. Lloyds closed in March last year and Barclays followed suit in November.

The closures left the village without 24-hour access to cash as the holes in the wall were also removed, which was, according to local Northumberland County Councillor Nick Oliver, devastating for residents and tourists alike.

While there is an ATM within the Co-op store, its capacity to store money is limited and it is only accessible during the shop’s opening hours.

Coun. Oliver has campaigned for a cash machine to be reinstated in the village, and thanks to a collaboration between Barclays and the Post Office, a new machine is due to be installed in the coming weeks.

Coun. Oliver said: “With no bank, and only limited access to a cash machine because the one in the Co-op could run out of money from time to time, it was quite a serious problem and certainly one we needed to sort out.

“It affected two groups of people the most – older people who weren’t comfortable using interactive banking and who would have to go into Hexham to bank – and tourists who needed access to cash or exchange facilities. Corbridge is a major tourist destination, so it was not great that there wasn’t much access to a cashpoint.”