Volunteers blast bank over account snarl-up

Ledbury Reporter: SMILING THROUGH PROBLEMS: From left, Jan Long, Jenny Seaborn and Val Brookes with tasty treats on offer in the new Bromsberrow Heath community shop. Photograph: Nick Toogood. 4513446001 SMILING THROUGH PROBLEMS: From left, Jan Long, Jenny Seaborn and Val Brookes with tasty treats on offer in the new Bromsberrow Heath community shop. Photograph: Nick Toogood. 4513446001

VOLUNTEERS running a new community shop are at their wits end as they are still waiting to open a bank account – six weeks after applying.

Those behind the Bromsberrow Heath community shop, near Ledbury, which opened in the first week of November, say they were promised it would take a maximum of two days for NatWest to set-up the account, with about £10,000 waiting to be paid in.

That was on October 23, with shop committee members resorting to paying small suppliers in cash out of weekly till takings.

“It’s been nothing short of shambolic,”

said Jan Long, secretary of the Community Shop Committee.

“It’s stressful enough setting up a shop. I’ve been making calls from my mobile to 0845 numbers at NatWest.

“I’m dreading my bill coming through. It gets embarrassing when the committee asks what is going on with the account.”

She has written to the bank’s chairman, Sir Philip Hampton, telling him “your bank could not possibly have been less helpful to us”.

She said the £10,000 that the group has to put into the account has come from wellwishers, donors and the Plunkett Foundation, which promotes and supports social enterprises in rural communities.

“Several well-wishers have offered us start-up donations but without a current account we cannot bank their cheques or provide a sort code and account number to enable these generous donors to transfer their pledged funds,” said Mrs Long.

“We appear inept and ungrateful.

I have made a total of 15 calls to NatWest, being passed from pillar to post from Rotherham to Hereford, Rotherham, Leicester, back to Hereford and now Wimbledon, and have repeatedly been promised early action. The irony is that we are not trying to borrow money from NatWest but put cash into an account.

“We support local farmers and businesses and are the hub of our village and a lifeline for very lonely pensioners who cannot manage a nine-mile round trip to Ledbury and come to their local community shop for bread, milk, newspapers and other items.” Nicola Harris, media relations manager for the Royal Bank of Scotland – speaking on behalf of NatWest – apologised for the inconvenience and said she “understood the frustration”

felt by the volunteers.

“Our local director has now been made aware of this case and is looking into the circumstances surrounding this delay,” she said.

“He has contacted the customer to assure her that it will be resolved at the earliest possible opportunity and any appropriate corrective action will be taken.”

  • NatWest’s slogan is ‘Helpful Banking’. The bank’s website says “And that certainly holds true when it comes to its online personal banking service.”

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