24 March 2000

Tory chief aids farmers

FARMERS in Northumberland and North Yorks who are fighting the closure of rural branches of Barclays have enlisted the help of their MPs – Tory leader William Hague and leading Lib-Dem Alan Beith.

In Reeth, near Richmond, North Yorks, residents have persuaded Barclays to explore the possibility of entering into a partnership with the community whereby the bank would open once or twice a week.

They are being backed by Mr Hague, who said: "It is wrong that people already worried about a rundown in rural services and the threat to country post offices now have this extra burden to face."

In Belford, Northumberland – where protesters are being supported Mr Beith – farmers are threatening to quit Barclays altogether unless the bank keeps the branch open.

"Barclays must be made to know they will lose more money if they shut the branch," said Mr Beith. &#42