'We're quids in with free-to-use cash mashine'
A FREE-to-use cash machine has been installed in St Werburgh's after campaigners highlighted a lack of services.
The new machine installed in a shop owned by Astaab Hamid is the only free 24-hour machine in the area and replaces an ATM which charged for withdrawals.
Neighbourhood campaigner and Green Party council candidate Rob Telford petitioned the council after it emerged that residents in the inner city neighbourhood were among the worst off when it came to accessing their money without charges.
The Post first highlighted the issue six years ago after finding a number of black-spots in the city, where the only cash machines available charged fees ranging from 70p to £5. A study by The Post found that many of the worst affected neighbourhoods were in Bristol's less affluent areas.
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Mr Hamid, who lobbied a provider to install the machine outside his Best One shop on Mina Road, told The Post: "Believe it or not, back in the day we were one of the first places to get a cash machine which charges.
"Now we have thrown that out and managed to get a completely free one installed."
He said it had been a struggle to persuade providers NoteMachine to replace the fee-charging machine with a free one.
Mr Hamid said: "I had been on to them for over a year.
"The petition helped it on its way though, I think. I told the company about the campaign and it might just have given them a push.
"The main thing now is that the people of St Werburgh's have access to their cash without a charge."
Mr Telford said: "It's really good news and it's a model for other communities.
"If you put a little pressure on and show it to the business community, it can have positive results."
Mr Telford's petition included signatures from more than 200 people, and he said it was the demands of the local community which had led to the changes.
The installation comes soon after another free machine was installed in the nearby Better Food Company premises – but this machine is only available while the shop is open.
Bristol West Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams welcomed the new free-to-use cash machine.
He said he also supported Mr Telford's campaign because he recognised that the distance from St Werburgh's to the nearest alternative free cash point was causing difficulties for many people.
Mr Williams said: "I'm confident it will help local residents, as paying to use a cash machine will no longer be a concern for people living in the area.
"Not having easy access to their cash was an inconvenience for residents and, for some, caused major difficulties with accessing their money."
In March, The Post published a report which concluded that some areas of Bristol, first identified in our Money For Nothing campaign five years previously, were still in desperate need of free cash machines.
The research revealed how people living in the least affluent parts of the city continue to face regular fees to withdraw cash while those living in the most affluent areas pay nothing.
The Post's Money for Nothing campaign called on banks to replace fee-charging ATMs with one that are free at point of use.
Nationwide was among companies that answered the call to install more free machines.
But last year we found that some areas, including St Paul's and St Werburgh's, still had no free cash machines while in more affluent areas, including Clifton and Westbury- on-Trym, almost all ATMs were free to use.
Our research showed the average cost for withdrawing cash at fee-charging cash dispensers across Bristol was around £1.75.