A DECISION by Barclays Bank to reverse a decision to remove its services from the Post Office has secured the long-term future of some of Tynedale's most rural businesses.

Bellingham News, which hosts the village's Post Office, and Ponteland Post Office were worried for the long-term effects of Barclay's announcement that customers would no longer be able to withdraw money from post offices from January.

The managers of the services claimed that rural communities relied on the Post Office services to get cash and it could lead to the closure of their local post offices.

Thursday's news that Barclays had made a U-turn on the plans was warmly met in these rural areas.

Kate Jameson, the postmistress at Bellingham Post Office, said: "To be fair, I'm happy for me because I'm still going to get the business in, but I'm more happy for the customers because the majority of them are elderly who were worried and panicking as they can't use an ATM.

"I had a petition which had 650 signatures on which I was going to send to Barclays to highlight that there was opposition against the plans in such a rural area, but I don't need to now.

"Bellingham only has one ATM and that isn't very reliable, so the majority of my customers are relieved at the news."

Kate praised the support of Hexham's MP Guy Opperman who  called on Barclays executives to reverse its decision in a meeting at Westminster.

Mr Opperman said: "‘In the meeting last week, I called on the bank to reverse its plan for the sake of local people in rural communities who still rely heavily on cash, and I am delighted that Barclays has seen sense and renewed its commitment to the Post Office.

"Full credit to all those who campaigned hard on this, but also to Barclays for having the courage to admit it initially got this wrong, and then to put it right."

Jes Staley, the Barclays Group chief executive, released a statement on Thursday explaining the decision to renege on its plans.

He said: “Our decision provoked a great deal of public and private debate. We have listened very carefully to points that have been made to us by ministers in the Government, by MPs, and by interested charities and consumer advocates.

“Ultimately, we have been persuaded to rethink our proposals by the argument that our full participation in the Post Office Banking Framework is crucial at this point to the viability of the Post Office network.

“Whilst we have concerns regarding the sustainability of relying on this model in the longer term, and want to work with Government and others to address the problems inherent in it, we recognise that the Post Office is a network valued by many communities in the UK today.

“So we have amended our position, and will now maintain a full service proposition in the Post Office for our customers, including cash withdrawals using a debit card, for the next three years.”