CIVIC leaders have praised a building society for making a bold investment in a North-East town centre by relocating one of its branches to a more spacious and modern building.

Darlington Building Society’s smart new branch in Redcar High Street was officially opened by the town’s Mayor, Councillor Carole Morgan.

After cutting a ribbon, Councillor Morgan joined other civic leaders in thanking the Society for its “vote of confidence” in the town centre.

She said: “This new, improved, bigger and more modern branch is absolutely wonderful and a very welcome investment in Redcar town centre.

“I am sure it will encourage further investment, which is what we really need in Redcar.

“The facilities are so much more spacious, and I am sure they will be appreciated by staff and customers because people still want that physical experience of having a building society they can walk into.”

Redcar MP Jacob Young and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who were given an exclusive preview of the new branch prior to the official opening for members, also welcomed Darlington Building Society’s support for the town centre after being shown around the new branch in Regent Walk.

The Society had previously been based in a smaller building further down the High Street, and the Redcar relocation is part of a major ongoing investment in its branch network. It follows refurbishments of branches in Guisborough, Yarm, Barnard Castle and Northallerton, and improvements to other branches are due to be announced soon.

There are also plans to enable head office staff to work from the new Redcar branch, and the Society is exploring ways for the office space to be used to benefit the local community.

Mr Houchen said: “Darlington Building Society is making a huge investment across the region, especially in places like Redcar High Street and, hopefully, it will inspire more businesses to invest in the town centre.

“It’s fantastic to see the Society take the bull by the horns. The modern, inviting facilities reflect the amazing people who work for the Society, giving customers first-class service at the heart of the community.”

Mr Young added: “These new facilities are fantastic and it’s great to see a new branch opening that’s so inviting for members. Darlington Building Society has done amazing things for people locally through its pledge to donate five per cent of its profits to good causes in the community and this new branch is further evidence of its commitment to the area.”

Chief Executive Andrew Craddock said: “Darlington Building Society has been in business for 165 years in the North-East, helping customers save for the future and supporting home ownership, and this investment will help even more people.

“Our aim is to modernise and appeal to younger people, while at the same time providing a brilliant working environment for our staff.

“There’s massive investment coming into the Tees Valley, and we want to be part of that. We are committed to engaging with the local community, and it’s brilliant to have the support and recognition of civic leaders.”

Mr Craddock said staff members at the Redcar branch had made a significant commitment to volunteering in the local community and urged local people to come forward with nominations for the Society’s five per cent pledge.

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