HUNTINGDONSHIRE district councillor Marge Beuttell, chairman of Sibson-cum-Stibbington parish council has enlisted the help of MP Shailesh Vara after the parish council's Barclays bank account was abruptly closed. A letter of protest has now gone to both the bank's chief executive and chairman demanding an explanation.
A trail of correspondence shows that prior to closing the account, Barclays staff made several promises that the council's complaint would be resolved. Subsequently, deadlines came and went while in the meantime bills went unpaid including that of the parish clerk.
Cllr Beuttell asked for the MP's support after her own complaints seemed to fall on deaf ears. The bank made contradictory statements, with email responses either delayed or messages ignored and repeat requests for information that had already been provided.
She told us: "The sudden and unexplained closure of our account left the parish council unable to pay not only our clerk, but other service providers for over three months which was frustrating and extremely embarrassing. I have personally heard similar stories of clubs and charities where bank accounts have been unexpectedly closed and I hope Shailesh's intervention will open a wider debate."
Shailesh said this was 'appalling' treatment, the very opposite of good customer service. "I have seen the correspondence between the parish council and the bank which does not show Barclays in a good light at all," he added. "The council has suffered poor treatment for months culminating in the closure of their account without explanation despite assurances to the contrary.
"I have asked Barclays chief executive Mr C Venkatakrishnan to personally look into this case and I hope this matter can be quickly resolved and the account re-opened if that is what the council wishes."
Photo: Shailesh Vara MP with Cllr Marge Beuttell