An innovative partnership between Newcastle Building Society and Stockton Borough Council saw the opening of a branch of the building society within a local town library last month.
Locals, library visitors and customers gave the move a ‘thumbs up’, praising the convenience of locating a branch in a library, and supporting the continued provision of local services in the process.
Sharon Roberts, who came along to an Alice in Wonderland opening celebration event with her young daughters, said:
“Although the idea is unusual, it seems to work. I am now going to open a couple of savings accounts for the children because it enables me to bank in a friendly environment where the family can also sit down and enjoy a good book.”
Yarm Library is located on a bustling High Street, which still retains some of its traditional cobbled areas. The library is a bright and airy space, opening out at the back through folding glass doors, onto a walled reading garden with seating. The children’s area overlooks the garden and is next to the Newcastle Building Society branch in the corner, enabling parents and grandparents with little ones to keep them in view whilst dealing with counter staff.
The first of its kind, the branch/library partnership was given the go ahead by planners and local residents at a consultation event in February. It formed part of the Council’s wider refurbishment of the existing library to create an open community space featuring wheeled bookshelves, seating areas and a reading garden.
The single counter Newcastle Building Society branch with its two private meeting rooms will support local people’s saving and borrowing needs and will also offer convenient and accessible financial advice on site through its financial advice subsidiary, Newcastle Financial Services Limited.
Chief executive Andrew Haigh said:
“Working with the team at Stockton Borough Council has been a great experience and helped us focus on what is really important about a local building society branch – essentially it’s all about people and the vital relationships that connect customers, staff and the local community.”
“We are hopeful that our new branch together with the library will quickly become a hub for the local community and that it might also provide inspiration for other organisations to think of similar partnerships which can support communities in their local area.”
Councillor Norma Wilburn, Stockton Borough Council, added:
“The cost of running the library is now shared and that’s absolutely great. It allows us to continue running the service. We’re sharing the building, we’re sharing the experience.
“Yarm Library, in partnership with Newcastle Building Society, will undoubtedly benefit from this new setup and investment into the facility and, as such, the wider community will also be able to continue to enjoy the library as a centre for information, learning and enjoyment.”
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