Thursday, December 21, 2006

Local MP bids for free cash machine in Pollards Hill

I have put out a press release from Siobhain McDonagh about getting a cash machine into Pollards Hill. While we have a cash machine it charges local residents for use and in an area of high deprevation like Pollards Hill having access to a free cash machine is something I believe we should have and hopefully we will be a location for one of these free to use cash machines.

Local MP bids for free cash machine in Pollards Hill

Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh has called on the big banks to stop charging Pollards Hill residents for withdrawing cash. This follows an announcement that the industry will be increasing the number of free cashpoints in disadvantaged areas. Currently, residents have to pay at least £1.75 to obtain cash, even if they are withdrawing only £10.

Siobhain has written to Link, urging them to introduce a new ATM on South Lodge Avenue, in the heart of Pollards Hill. Local community group Commonside has also backed the campaign - in August, its Project Manager Naomi Martin wrote to the Royal Bank of Scotland asking it to consider installing a cashpoint at the local community centre.

Siobhain has told bank bosses many residents in Pollards Hill are more than a mile's walk from a free cash machine, even though the area is also one of the most income deprived neighbourhoods in the country. Siobhain said:

"People in Pollards Hill can ill afford to pay just for the privilege of getting their own money. Yet that is what the banks are forcing them to do. I'm pleased they've agreed to install more free machines, but I want them to make sure Pollards Hill gets one."

"In built up areas like Mitcham and Morden, you shouldn't have to walk far to find a free ATM, but I have been campaigning in Parliament for increased access to free cash machines, and I think it's terrible that people in Pollards Hill have to pay."

"Link says Pollards Hill has free ATMs nearby, but they ignored the fact you have to trudge across Mitcham Common in the mud and dark to get there. In reality, you need to walk 30 minutes to find one."

Siobhain's bid has been backed by the local Pollards Hill Labour Councillors. Cllr Zenia Jamison added:

"It's very surprising the banks haven't included us in their plans for free cashpoints. I can only assume they've made a mistake. The whole community will be working together with Siobhain to get them to change their minds."



Link has announced plans to install 600 free ATMs in low income areas, and has already identified a number of sites. These are in Super Output Areas (sub-sections of Council Wards - there are approximately 6 to 7 SOAs in each Council Ward) that are defined as Income Deprived using the Index of Multiple Deprivation produced by the ODPM in 2004. Link is targeting SOAs that are more than 1km from a free ATM as the crow flies. Road layouts and the natural barrier of Mitcham Common mean most residents actually have to walk between 1.5 to 2km.

Treasury Minister Ed Balls MP and the Chair of Parliament's Treasury select committee John McFall MP struck the agreement with the leading banks and cash machine operators to increase the number of free ATMs by 600. The new agreement is aimed at helping people on lower incomes to start up bank accounts and ensure that they can access those accounts as easily and cheaply as possible.


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