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Friday, 25 March 2011

HSBC Protest Gathers Pace!


HSBC has certainly kicked a hornets nest by messing with our village!  Protests are appearing from many corners, and plans are now being made to create a more collective approach. Continuing its excellent approach to customer care, HSBC would not reveal the time of regional manager’s branch visit earlier this week. We also understand that the manager in question has also declined an invitation to lunch with a few concerned customers.

Last Saturday, Helen White and friends set out a ‘Protest Pitch’ outside the HSBC Bank doors in Milford on Sea and collected many signatures on a petition. It was quite exciting to see a constant crowd queuing to sign, in an attempt to get their voice heard by ‘Mr & Mrs big bonus’ in HSBC.

To date the Advertiser & Times have run a story and seem very willing to visit the village to report on our guerrilla activities against this faceless, bonus ridden, banking giant. Thanks guys. Wave Radio were outside the bank at around 7.10am on Wednesday morning, where they met Helen & friends with their banner, and conducted an interview with Hugh Whitlock, our village solicitor, who was accompanied by some other early rising protesters. We also understand that South Today are taking an interest in the story. A number of local people have contacted the national press and the story is now appearing on various websites as the news spreads. The village’s other community website http://www.milfordonsea.com/ has also covered the story.

Another local villager, Jan England, has been around nearly all of the village shops to find details of all those who bank with our HSBC branch. She is also contacting local clubs & organising to establish the same.

Judit, who manages the Village Charity Shop, has reported that her ‘in-shop’ petition is now ‘getting huge’, and is urging people to come and sign it. She also writes: "As the HSBC were only willing to meet with individual callers to discuss the closure today (Wednesday), I took the opportunity to call in and meet with Julian Collinson, Regional Service Manager, South West Region for the HSBC. He confirmed the "party line" on the closure, but was unable to comment on why the bank is keeping open the Brockenhurst branch and shutting the only bank in our unique village. Mr Collinson can be emailed on juliancollinson@hsbc.com. He has promised to pass on all of our many comments to head office, but I am sure he would love to hear from you all individually, so get typing and make his day."

We also know of a number of account holders who have personally written to HSBC expressing their displeasure. At this stage of course they have only received ‘Automated replies’, I am sure in time the ‘comedy letter department’ at HSBC will construct a formal patronising reply.

BBC News (Hampshire & Isle of Wight) have reported on our story, and interestingly also report that the HSBC branch in Findon Valley will shut on 10 September, apparently because not enough customers use it. HSBC (which recently announced profits of £7bn) have promised to help customers make alternative arrangements for managing their finances. (I bet that doesn’t included helping transfer accounts to other banks.) Maggie Winter of Findon Valley Residents' Association said: "The usage isn't actually as low as HSBC would like us to believe”. Does this sounds familiar? Maggie continues; "They were the last bank standing here and five years ago they made a promise that if they were in that position they would never ever close and now they are totally reneging on that undertaking." Hmmm, they made the same promises when Lloyds left our village. HSBC have also given the same garbage excuses to them, as they have to us. Nowhere can I find them revealing the real truth, which of course is, ‘we want to make more money and we couldn’t care a less about the problems it causes you’.
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If you would like to get involved in the current protests…...

Saturday (Tomorrow): The petition will be available to sign outside of HSBC or in the Village Charity shop.

Monday: The Parish Council meeting has the bank closure on the agenda. Everyone welcome to attend. Venue: Monday evening at 6.30 in the Village Hall, Park Road. The bank representatives have been invited to attend, but there has been no response so far.

Friday (Today): Helen White and Mark Cummings have a meeting planned with Desmond Swayne to discuss position. They also plan to coordinate a meeting with HSBC at the village hall in the following weeks. (Should they be willing to attend)

Future Public Action Group Meeting: There is talk of bringing everyone together to create a collective action plan, but no news on this so far. Will let you know where & when if it happens.

You can also post comment below, or on a Facebook page started by Karen. We will let you have the address when we know it.
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STOP PRESS:

We have heard that some replies are now been received from complaint letters to HSBC. One reiterates the patronising statement made to customers in the letter informing them of the closure. Amusingly, it says at the end ‘that if they don’t hear back, they will presume that the person is satisfied with their response to their complaint’. I guess this process just continues until someone get bored and gives in.

The HSBC Regional Services Manager, Julian G Collinson (juliancollinson@hsbc.com) who visited this week and met with a few customer individually, has also replied to some comments, saying: “Thank you for your contact, as promised I am collating the various feedback I received yesterday from many customers, and will contact you again as matters become clearer around the provision of an ATM. The decision to close Milford on Sea branch was a very difficult one to take in such challenging times and I do not dismiss the genuine concerns expressed to me by residents and business owners in the village. I do appreciate the feelings of the local community, equally a decision has been taken by ourselves which is not reversable. The issue of reduced hours is on reflection impractical, however I will be happy to pass on the thoughts to my colleagues for due consideration, although my personal view having reflected on this is that if we were to consider reducing hours this would not have the desired affect upon the contribution to the bank's business from this particular branch. Commercially the decision to close is sound, but having said that I understand the impact, emotionally and financially, upon customers as a result.”

Dear Julian G, Your reply to a friend gave me great comfort, as for a change the spelling errors in that letter are not mine! Interestingly, I have not once seen in any HSBC correspondence suggestions that the branch is losing money, so it is fair to assume it is not. Neither do you mention the value of the deposits which are held by HSBC customers in the village. I suspect with over 5000 people and some serious wealth it may be a nice few quid. We have heard that HSBC consider our branch ‘under-used’. This is of course not quantified by HSBC. How long does the queue have to be before a branch is considered ‘well-used’? I am sure we could call in a bit more often if you wanted us to. I would love to see the statistics on ‘Customers served per head of staff’ in comparison to other branches, but guess you will not publish them to us.

As we have been told that the decision to close the HSBC Milford on Sea branch was made after ‘careful consideration’, who forgot about the ATM Cash machine then? I know it is outside, but I guess the ‘grey suits’ knew the branch had one. I am unclear what you mean by; ‘and will contact you again as matters become clearer around the provision of an ATM’. Does that mean; ‘Ooops, we forgot about that, and need to come up with an idea’, or ‘We have already decided that this is going anyway, but by giving false hope we may quieten the silly villagers down a bit’. Being pedantic, we don’t actually want a ‘provision’ of an ATM, we just want to keep the one we have.

Your Corporate Responsibility pages on your website are quite humorous, there are quite a few that tickled me, but the best one is: “For HSBC, corporate social responsibility, or 'CSR', means managing our business responsibly and sensitively for long-term success. Our goal is not, and never has been, profit at any cost because we know that tomorrow's success depends on the trust we build today”. Absolutely hilarious!!  Who wrote this then Julian? Whoever they are, they must have forgotten to tell everyone involved in deciding to shut our branch. Perhaps the ‘knife wielding grey suits’ could have a chat with the 'nice & cuddly' directors that wrote your ‘feel good policy’ and see how this fits in with your closure decision. If you would like to sell tickets for this meeting I am happy to promote these for you. (Returning all profits to HSBC of course) I suspect many of us in the village would love to see senior HSBC blokes talking to themselves, as they try to work out why they say one thing, and then do exactly the other.
I know from previous correspondence that HSBC think we are a bit stupid, and I guess you may be right, because I just can’t get my head round how HSBC still enjoys tax payer underwritten inter-bank loans, the usage of the special liquidity scheme and the benefits of quantitative easing, and then after posting £7billion in profits, decide to attack a community in Milford on Sea simply because they are not delivering you enough profit.

Our local shopkeepers & businesses know all about ‘striving for a fair profit, whilst providing a service to the community’. Should HSBC ever rethink their corporate ‘profit only’ strategy, I am sure we could arrange a bus load of small business people from the village to mentor at one of your management training programmes. We would happily cover our own costs if you felt you were running a bit short of cash. We would also bring our own flasks of coffee and sandwiches so that we did not waste any of the profits destined for bonuses. In fact, whilst we were travelling to you we might also find a bank to pay in the shop takings, so sounds like a win-win’ to me. Perhaps, when you get it on ‘your radar’ & are ‘thinking outside of the box’, you can get everyone ‘onside’ & ‘going forward’, to ‘run the idea up the flagpole.’

Some in our community feel that we should appeal to HSBC’s better nature. My opinion differs, as I have seen no sign that HSBC have any intention of considering us in any way. I see HSBC as insensitive, arrogant, hypocritical, selfish and greedy.  Have nice day. 

Food Week on Radio this Sunday



If you happening to be listening to the Nick Girdler Show on BBC Radio Solent at 11.10am this coming Sunday you will hear a 5 minute interview about the delights of Milford on Sea Food Week. If you fancy tuning in the wavelengths are: 96.1 & 103.8FM: 999 and 1039 AM: DAB: bbc.co.uk/solent

Hugh Whitlock on Wave Radio



Wave Radio were outside the ‘closing’ HSBC bank in Milford on Sea at around 7.10am on Wednesday morning. Here they met a number of early rising protesters and conducted an interview with Hugh Whitlock, our village solicitor.

To hear Hugh Whitlock’s radio interview please click here:

Saturday, 19 March 2011

HSBC think we are stupid


Dear Ben,

As an existing customer of the Milford on Sea branch that you intend to desert soon, I am in receipt of your letter dated ‘March 2011’.

At first I was not sure whether to laugh or cry, but I have now decided to be insulted instead.

I assume that as a senior manager in HSBC you are reasonably intelligent, therefore I have to assume that you consider your loyal customers in Milford on Sea to be stupid.

To explain, I do understand that you are unlikely to be the decision maker in the closure of our village branch, and that some grey suit, or even worse a collective of grey suits have loaded the gun for you to fire. (Is a collective of grey suits a ‘greed gaggle’, I am not sure?) Regardless, your name is the signatory on the letter, so I have to assume you have read it and may even have been involved in the content.

Firstly, your letter title: ‘Important changes to your branch.’ I think you will find there are no changes to our branch. There is going to be no branch. That is not a change, that is a closure. So why not just say, ‘Closure of your branch’ it makes things clearer for our limited intelligence, and factually correct. (Hope this is helping for when HSBC help to wreck another local community in the near future.)

Your first sentence is a gem, and I quote; ‘At HSBC, we are constantly evolving and developing our services to help you do your banking at a time and place that suits you.’ Unbelievable! Whoever wrote this letter must really consider me and my fellow local customers to be morons. The place that suits us is Milford on Sea, and you are closing it!  Furthermore if HSBC really wanted to 'help me do my banking' they would not close the branch.

You go on to say ‘after careful consideration, we have taken the difficult decision...’. Hmm, ‘careful consideration.’ I guess this means, ‘We have looked at our profits and decided to make some more, without consideration of our customers.' ‘Difficult decision’, I don’t really believe it was that difficult. HSBC just decided and did it. If I am faced with a difficult decision, I normally consult others to get the best result for all. I guess HSBC know that any form of local consultation would have caused issues, so why waste your time and go through the hassle.

Your second paragraph. Again I quote; ‘But don’t worry...’ I say ‘don’t patronise us!'  You go on to write, in a way that we should be grateful, that you are ‘automatically transferring’ our accounts to Lymington. Well bully for HSBC, I didn’t actually expect you to say that you were closing our accounts and inviting us to find new banks.

Your third paragraph goes on to list ‘the benefits’ I will get from the moving my account somewhere I did not ask. 1. Longer opening hours. (Ours were fine thanks) 2. Additional staff to assist with my banking needs. (We had plenty thanks) 2 and 3 I can’t even be bothered to comment on because they are so ridiculous.

You do not mention anything about our village cash machine in your letter, other than to tell us that machines exist in Lymington & New Milton. (We already knew that thanks.) I do not suppose HSBC care, but a lot of people fight daily to keep our village shops alive. We are also reliant on holiday makers to keep things going. By removing our cash machine, visitors and locals will not be able to get cash easily and sales will undoubtedly suffer. People will now have no choice other than to leave the village to get cash, and may shop near where they are visiting. This could be the final straw for some of our shops and they may close, and not out of choice like yourselves. If you remove our cash machine as well this would be more than shameful.

The irony is that HSBC could push hard working, but struggling businesses over the edge, at the same time that they have been helping the struggle by providing accessible bank loans. Oh no my mistake, you don't lend money to people that need it any more. 

In your final paragraph you provide an invitation to ask questions, Thank you so very much. It would have been handy if you had included an e-mail address, especially as your letter tells us how wonderful electronic banking is, but you didn’t. However, I have no intention of wasting the cost of postage stamp writing to you in snail mail, neither do I choose to call your 0845 telephone number at my expense. You also offer the opportunity to ‘call in’, ‘where any member of the team will be happy to help’. Help with what?! I suspect any conversation would go something like this: ‘Can you help me keep our branch open please?, Err, no. Thanks for helping, I will now make the four mile journey back to Milford, once I can get back to my car that has taken over an hour to find a parking space. My pleasure sir, have a nice day.

Your letter closes by ‘apologising for any inconvenience caused’. When I was at school I was taught that an apology is an expression of remorse or regret used when you had done something wrong. Do HSBC really think they have done something wrong and are feeling remorse? I suspect not.

HSBC may not care about our village, be we certainly do. I am confident that many villagers hope that HSBC’s decision to close our branch results in sufficient account defections to make your move a net loss. Even better would be that the ‘grey suit gang’ responsible receive a reduced bonus as a consequence. Better still we would love one of them to be on holiday in Milford on Sea when they run out of cash & their car breaks down. A resulting eight mile return walk to Lymington would be great to watch.

HSBC should be ashamed of their decision and of how the process has been handled. The banks were once an institution we all trusted and respected. They now have a well earned reputation for exactly the opposite.

PS: The footer on your letterhead has an icon encouraging us to ‘visit your branch’. Funny, oh so very funny. Do HSBC have a department who design mailings with an office & adjoining sound proofed room? Why a sound proofed room? Well, I guess they would need a place to go to raucously laugh their head off at our expense. ‘Hey John, look at this one. The morons out there will never spot the patronising garbage I have just put in this letter.’ He, he, he....'

PPS: I wonder what the consequence would be if every Milford on Sea resident decided to close all of their accounts with HSBC.  My guess is that some HSBC 'grey suits' would end up with very red faces.  I have no idea if this could happen in practise, but you might find enough people who wish to protest in this way.  Should this happen you may discover that decisions made on balance sheets don't always work out, - mainly because there are real people at the other end.

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Should anyone wish to sign a petition to try to keep the bank open, simply call into the Village Charity Shop.  You will also find a number of active campaigners set up in the village at various times.

If anyone has a view they would like to express, please feel free to post a comment below.

HSBC Protest on Wednesday

A village protest against the bank closure is being planned for next Wednesday on & near the village green. The time is yet to be decided, but if you would like to get involved please pop into the Village Charity Shop and Judit will be happy to give you the details.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

HSBC deserting our village


The village rumour mill is circulating with stories that HSBC Bank will be closing our Milford on Sea branch in June. It would be great if this was proved to be untrue, but my guess is that the rumour is based on fact. Over several years of using the bank the team has always been very helpful, and indeed the same goes for the Lymington branch. It now looks as though some good people may be looking for alternative careers, which is of course really easy to do in today’s world!

It seems the faceless grey suits in some grand building housing the HSBC HQ have decided our branch no longer provides a sufficient financial return for their coffers.  I doubt the resulting issues and difficulties created for loyal customers and local businesses are of any concern to any of them.  It is not all bad news though, at least they will be able to give themselves more bonuses and their shareholders a few more quid.

Hysterically, the bank prides itself on the strapline: ‘HSBC The worlds local bank’. Which of course may be more factual if it said ‘HSBC The worlds local bank, if we make enough money from it’.  Taking a look at the HSBC website I spotted that they offer ‘Bereavement support’.  It was not clear if their ‘Bereavement support team’ will be happy to counsel us in our time of loss?  Despite continued searches I did not find a ‘Branches we are closing to make more money’ page.

As a business owner myself I need no lessons in profitability, but perhaps I could teach them a thing or two about the rewards from sometimes doing 'the greater good'.   I have to admit that doing things for others benefit doesn't always line your pockets, but it has many other rewards.  Our company truely values our reputation above all else and we have constantly proven 'what goes around, comes around'.  For us this is good news, perhaps for the banks as a whole a judgement day will arrive.  How can it possible to constantly upset so many people without a consequence?

Big corporates paranoia with share prices drive just about all decisions, so all that seems to matter today is what they can take out of your piggy bank. Once your piggy is empty your value ceases. Fortunately we live a village with a real community, and we have many people who do good for others without any more return than feeling good for helping another soul.

If you fancy signing a petition there is one open & running in the Community Centre Charity Shop.  We also understand that our local MP Desmond Swayne is aware of the HSBC closure and has contacted them.

Please feel free to post a comment below if you wish. Who knows some suit from HSBC HQ may just read it and change their mind. I wouldn’t hold your breath though!


Putting Green Revival


Our Parish Council has agreed in principle to reinstate a nine pin putting green for the use of residents & visitors on Milford on Sea seafront. Discussions are proceeding with The Needles Eye CafĂ© & Bowls Club to see if they would be willing to set up and take down the pin flags during the summer. The Parish Council are now looking for local views before deciding whether to proceed.

Public Survey
Do you agree that the introduction of a simple putting green facility along the seafront would enhance the promenade facility? - Yes/No?

If you support the project, in which location would you prefer the to see the facility positioned:
A: Next to Bowls Green? - Yes/No
B: Next to Needles Eye Play Park? – Yes/No

Please send your responses to above questions, and any other thoughts you mayhave to: Keith Metcalf, Parish Clerk
milfordpc@btconnect.com

Closing date for responses: 12noon 31st March 2011.

Barry Phillips’ Youth Trust

The Barry Phillips’ Youth Trust is being launched in Milford on Sea. Barry died in the summer of 2009, well known locally for his involvement in New Milton Rugby Club, the time he spent teaching ‘maths’ at Arnewood School and in Village life, especially the Youth Club, which he started in 1970. When the Club closed in 1997 Barry’s greatest wish was that the old site in Sea Road be safeguarded for a future Community Centre and Youth Club. With the Centre’s opening in September 2010, he almost lived to see this happen.

Now nearly 20 months after Barry’s death, Jenny, his wife and two new trustees, will be launching the new Youth Trust in his memory. The Trust has been started to help young people of the Village who may need assistance to further their education. If Barry could, he would have continued to help young people attain their aspirations and gain a positive attitude to life. This new Trust will welcome applications from young people (21 and below) who may need a small financial incentive to buy equipment or instruments or to fund travel and tuition in order to give them a start towards achieving a vocation and/or career. The Trust will be funded for the most part, by local fund-raising events and will, therefore, only be in a position to offer awards up to £100 (only in exceptional circumstances will more be offered - and at the discretion of the Trustees). The application forms are very straightforward and should be completed by the young person applying for the funding.

The following people are the present Trustees. Jenny Spenser, Barry’s wife, was from 1980 an active member and trustee of the original Milford Youth Club. She is also a retired secondary teacher and a trustee of the Village Community Centre, Zena Gibson, who taught at a variety of secondary schools in the London area for over 20 years, heading a department for most of that time. Since moving to Milford on Sea three years ago she has been involved as a volunteer with Milford on Sea Youth Group and is now Chair of the Youth Committee, plus Veronica Crowley who is a qualified social worker and has worked in children’s services for thirty years. She set up her own Child Care Consultancy business in January 2009 providing training, support and mentoring across a variety of child care services. She is also a Governor at Priestlands Community School.

The official launch of Barry Phillips’ Youth Trust will be 1st April and to celebrate Jenny, Zena and Veronica are hosting a Tea Party at the Village Community Centre on Saturday 16th April from 2-5pm during the Milford on Sea’s Food Week. For £3.50 you can drink as much tea as you wish and have a delicious and generous portion of homemade cake, whilst supporting the youth of Milford.

Further planned events are:

June 26th Sunday afternoon tea in Shorefield Way (profits shared with Oakhaven)

July 23rd Saturday afternoon Fun Dog Show on the Village Green (profits shared with Milford’s Village Community Centre)

October 22nd a Saturday Evening of Music with refreshments at the Village Community Centre.

All these events will have their own advertisements in due course. If any reader has ideas for future events or would be willing to help please use the contact below.

Application forms are available from:

Milford on Sea Village Community Centre, Sea Road, MoS

Milford Youth Group c/o Community Centre above

Milford News (newsagents), High Street, MoS

Milford Primary School, Lymington Road, MoS

Priestlands School , Lymington, MoS

If you have any questions or need help completing the form Jenny Spenser can be contacted at Little Brook, Lymore Lane, Keyhaven, SO41 0TS Tel: 01590 644489

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Can you lend a hand at Food Week?

Volunteer Appeal for
Milford on Sea Food Week (11th to 17th April 2011)

Food Week relies upon a small dedicated group of volunteers who provide their expertise and time for free, to ensure fun for many. We are now looking for new volunteers to lend a hand during Food Week. If you can spare a few hours on any of the below please let me know. Thanks.

1. Kids Treasure Hunt Organiser (To create clues & to place in shop windows)

2. Food Week Poster Deliveries (To various Village Shops)

3. Programme Sellers Organiser (To liaise with Programme Sellers who volunteer for below)

4. Programme Sellers (Seafront and Village High Street on two Saturday & Sunday’s prior to Food Week – ‘11am to 1pm’ & ‘1pm to 3pm’)

5. Raffle Ticket Sellers (Various locations & selling times available)

6. Usherettes for Cookery Theatre Shows (Wednesday Afternoon / Thursday Early Evening / Friday Evening)

7. Chef Helpers for Cookery Theatre Shows (Wednesday Afternoon / Thursday Early Evening / Friday Evening)

8. Photographers (To record events as they happen)

9. Internet Event Calendar Input (Adding MoS Food Week to Online Event Calendars) (We have a list!)

Food Market Sunday 17th April 2011

10. Food Market First Aider (For Food Market Sunday 17th April 2011)

11. Food Market Traffic Marshalls

12. Food Market Litter Pickers (Team to pick up litter during & after event. Anyone got any youngsters they could co-ordinate to do this?)

If you would like to lend a hand with any of the above, please contact: david@milfordonsea.org