NORTH Antrim DUP MLA David McIlveen has this week urged Ulster Bank to do better for their members during the payments backlog saga.
Mr. McIlveen was prompted to look further into their response to the backlog, following the announcement that the problem could be ongoing until the week commencing 16th July.
As he knows the 12th holiday fortnight is a hugely important holiday time for his constituents, Mr. McIlveen decided to look into the matter more closely. Mr. McIlveen was dismayed to discover that the Ballymena branch of the Ulster Bank was the only branch in his constituency to offer late opening hours last week.
In addition, when Mr. McIlveen made enquiries last Friday, he had received no confirmation that the bank would extend its opening hours to the weekend.
At a time when huge numbers of his constituents, both individuals and businesses are struggling to keep going, Mr. McIlveen feels it is a case of ‘must try harder.’
This week he made these comments: “Since 19th July, we have all watched this Ulster Bank saga unfold. Whilst customers across the water have resumed normal business, almost four weeks later those Ulster Bank customers in Northern Ireland are still struggling.
“The issue seems to have begun with the payments backlog, with Ulster Bank customers experiencing more of a backlog due to the length of time it took for RBS to begin work here. However now I have heard reports of Hire Purchase companies complaining of non-payment, of bank balances showing incorrect amounts and of people expressing concerns about their credit ratings. In addition, small businesses are beginning to wonder if they will survive this catastrophe much longer.
“I appreciate that Ulster Bank and RBS have had an unprecedented and hugely complicated problem to deal with. However, I know that myself and other DUP colleagues have had concerns about the response from RBS and have found it to be lacking. The Finance Minister met with RBS Chair early last week and DUP MPs met with RBS representatives in the middle of last week. It is imperative that we continue to ensure that our constituents receive the information they need at this difficult time.
“With specific regard to my own constituents, I have had some calls, particularly from the older generation about the dissemination of information and the ease of access to their branches. I discovered that as of Friday last week, the Wellington Street in Ballymena branch was the only branch in the North Antrim constituency offering evening opening until 7pm. On Friday, Ulster Bank staff were also unable to confirm whether this branch would be open at the weekend. “I have written to RBS and the local Ulster Bank branches to urge them to think of their customers over the 12th of July holidays. RBS have already shown that they were happy to forget about their clients in Northern Ireland whilst the mainland issues were resolved. I would urge them not to make the same mistake over this incoming holiday time.
In the interim, I would urge all my constituents to keep themselves as informed as possible and to avoid any excess or irregular borrowing. Ulster Bank have made assurances that customers will be compensated and the situation will be returned to normal. Therefore I would strongly advice people not to get involved with high interest or high risk borrowing.”