Community shop unable to accept thousands of pounds of donations after bank mix-up

A SHOP run entirely by volunteers has had to turn down thousands in donations after being let down by a bank.

The Bromsberrow Heath community shop opened its doors near Ledbury last month without a bank account.

Jan Long, chairman of the shop, was initially told by Natwest that a two-day turnaround would be required to set up an account but 40 days later there is still not one in place.

Mrs Long said: "We have been able to pay local small suppliers’ bills only in cash out of our weekly till takings, or via the personal cheques of volunteers who hope someday to be reimbursed.

“Several well-wishers have offered us start-up donations totalling some £10,000, 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. We appear inept and ungrateful.”

She claims information given at the initial stage was “incorrect and inaccurate” and has since made 15 calls and three visits to the Ledbury branch.

She was told that the case had been wrongly dealt with by the business department when it should have been clubs and communities.

Mrs Long said: “The irony of this situation is that we are not borrowing money from the bank – we are trying to give them £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 for bread, milk and newspapers.”

Nicola Harris, media relations manager for the Royal Bank of Scotland - owners of Natwest, said: "We apologise for any inconvenience and understand the frustration felt regarding the length of time it has taken to open this account.

"Our Local Director has now been made aware of this case and is looking into the circumstances surrounding this delay. 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."

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