On the soapbox

With our press officer, Marie, having no mobile reception while holidaying in Devon, I was left to take up the soap box last week. It was a whirlwind of radio and newspaper interviews with some hefty report readings that brought me headaches and a vivid reminder of why I've spent a lifetime shredding these documents and shouting Scouse curses at the jargon masters.

On Monday I woke up to the news that my cheques would no longer be acceptable. This wasn't because I've spent my entire pension, but because the banks felt it would be easier for them. The box came straight out and my trusty stand-in press officer Steve Jenner came to the rescue so that I could add my voice to the objections.

Of course it isn't about plain English and I'm the first to admit that I'm no financial whizz-kid. This isn't the Campaign trying to be financial experts, but just me having a say as a customer.

This is what Steve wrote:

Plain English Campaign leader Chrissie Maher today launches a stinging attack on banks because of plans to close many local branches.

"I think their plans are ageist." she argues. "They are forcing many customers - perhaps older ones who are not so comfortable with the idea of online banking - to face a stark choice.

"That choice is either travel for miles to the nearest branch in all weathers or ask relatives to take effective control of their banking.

"This is neither right nor fair and it could well make bankers even less popular than they are now - if that is possible!

"I would remind the banks that a revolt on plans to scrap cheques resulted in a humiliating climb-down by the bankers." she added.

"The Government seems to be pumping banks full of our cash in something they call 'quantitative easing.' If banks are planning to close around half their branches in some cases, we're forced to ask what the money is for!

"This could well happen again if the greed and disregard of the banks for their community responsibilities is allowed to go unchecked.

"I call upon the regulator to intervene and prevent the destruction of the banking network which has served the people of this country well for years."

More news:

Here is an article from the Belfast Telegraph with my comments after spending my weekend on those mind-boggling government documents from Stormont. I also did an interview on Radio Ulster Talkback to let them know what I think!

You can listen to the interview by clicking on the start button on the audio player below.

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