COMMUNITY shop volunteers have received a personal apology from bank bosses after being left without an account for nearly two months.
Jan Long, secretary of committee which runs The Shop At Bromsberrow, wrote to Natwest chairman Sir Philip Hampton criticising the company for the delay which had seen them unable to accept more than £10,000 in donations.
As reported in the Observer, the shop opened on November 3 when residents rallied round following the retirement of the owners of the previous store in the village.
In the letter, Mrs Long said the committee approached the Ledbury branch of Natwest on October 23 and was told there was a two-day turnaround.
But since she claimed she had made 15 calls and paid three visits to the branch and had been passed ‘from pillar to post’, speaking to staff in Rotherham, Leicester and Wimbledon in an attempt to resolve the situation.
She claimed staff had overlooked the need for a password and the case had been wrongly dealt with by the business department instead of clubs and communities, adding they had been offered donations of £10,000 but without an account were unable to bank cheques or provide details to enable transfers, which made them appear ‘inept and ungrateful’.
“The irony of this situation is that we are not borrowing money from you, on the contrary, we are trying to give you £10,000 to put into an account so that we can pay our many outstanding bills associated with opening the community shop. 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.”
But since writing the letter, volunteers at the shop have been visited by Herefordshire area manager Paul Marks to apologise for the delay. The account is now set up and they have a cheque book to enable them to continue trading.
As a celebration of the good news, the shop will be hosting an all-day drinks and nibbles party this Friday (December 20) from 9am to 5pm for all customers and supporters.
A Natwest spokeswoman said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused. The local director is doing his best to put things right and work with the customer to ensure the success of the venture. His local team have offered voluntary support in the future.”