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Friday, 21 October 2011

Cash Machines & Suits

When HSBC decided they could no longer be bothered to provide a local bank branch in Milford on Sea some months ago, we always knew the ATM cash machine would only stay for a while after they left . Well it is still here, but for how much longer?

Ever enterprising, the Co-op now have a cash machine installed in the rear of their store, and Mark at The Village News, applied to have a 24 hour ATM cash machine installed in the front of his shop. All sounded a reasonable replacement for the anticipated lost cash dispensing service, and more importantly these actions would ensure that locals and visitors alike could easily get cash to spend in the village.

All was going well, Mark had surveyors call from HSBC bank to check his security and to look at structural reinforcement for the area around the intended cash machine. All was agreed and a planning application was then submitted.

Guess what, the suits have now scuppered the plan. Apparently, the planning application for the cash machine in The Village News has been rejected by the NFDC on the grounds that it offends the aesthetics of the shop front and village. Not being rude, but have you seen the front of Mark's shop, and the sixties style shop front gloriously painted with the dye from over 10,000 bananas. It is simply a newsagents shop, a fine type of newsagents shop indeed, but and a far as my research could tell neither Christopher Wren, nor Norman Foster had a hand in the architectural design. It was also considered the cash machine location would be dangerous due to the footpath width, the concern being that people would dive directly in front of oncoming traffic should someone be using it.

Firstly, if there was a cash machine outside HSBC, how can effectively moving the service 50 yards affect the village aesthetics any differently? Also, do they have any comprehension the impact of not being able to get hold of cash will have on our village economy. Our Parish Council recommended permission and confirmed the village needs an ATM. Unfortunately their comment that they “do have concerns that the cash machine may not look very attractive’ may have inadvertently given the council support for their refusal.

Of course the Coop's effort is to be applauded and it does provide an useful in-store mini cash facility for us all The only problem is, it is only available during opening hours and being small, it is likely to run out of cash in times of high usage, with refilling taking a day or two.

On reading the Planning Application refusal on the NFDC website I was comforted to discover that; “In coming to this recommendation, consideration has been given to the rights set out in Article 8 (Right to respect for private and family life) and Article 1 of the First Protocol (Right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions) of the European Convention on Human Rights.” That’s good then. A bit of a shame that one of the NFDC’s planning criteria isn’t ‘Will this help struggling small village businesses in a difficult economic time’.

Ironically, this is the same planning department who approved the irrelevant monster signs on the seafront, and at some stage thought approving change of use from shops to housing was a good idea. As a result we now have a High Street split in two.

Mark is now speaking to HSBC to see if anything can be done under appeal. Things get quite confusing at my age, as it was only a few months ago that I was lambasting HSBC for leaving, and now I am on their side in getting the ATM into The Village News. Life’s twists and turns always keep me amused.

If you have any views you would like to express, please feel free to post a comment below.

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