A WATER company claims a new payment system will improve convenience for customers, even though people in one Cheshire village could face a round-trip of up to 25 miles.
The Chronicle has been contacted by residents in Tattenhall who have traditionally paid their United Utilities’ water bill in weekly instalments at the village post office.
However, this facility has been removed with the nearest alternative Payzone outlets now at Tilston – a 12 mile-round trip, and Tarvin – a 25 mile round-trip.
One disabled resident told The Chronicle he was angry that United Utilities had publicised the system as being a “much easier” way to pay.
He said: “It is changing from the post office, which is very convenient for me and everyone else in Tattenhall. There has been no consultation whatsoever.”
The resident said he did not have a bank account because he regarded the banks as “a bunch of crooks” and so had to pay bills in cash rather than by cheque or debit card.
The Chronicle reader said “a lot” of elderly people in the village would be inconvenienced.
Cllr Mike Jones (Con, Tattenhall) is “disgusted” with United Utilities for leaving its customers in the lurch.
He said: “I’m all in favour of United Utilities coming up with easier ways for people to pay but they must not make it inconvenient for the elderly, disabled and people with special needs who will have to travel across the country to pay a bill.”
And Cllr Jones understands there is no direct bus service to either Tilston or Tarvin.
Tattenhall sub-postmistress Val Moon said The Post Office Ltd had lost its contract with United Utilities.
She said: “Lots of people have payment cards and they pay weekly – all sorts of people on low incomes. A lot don’t have bank accounts.”
Mrs Moon said it was still possible to pay a United Utilities bill through their local post office but now the transaction attracted a £2.35 handling fee.
United Utilities spokesman Nick Hulme said the two nearest Payzone outlets for Tattenhall residents are The Village Shop, Church Road, Tilston and The Cobbles, High Street, Tarvin.
He added: “The new arrangements are designed to improve convenience for customers who want to pay their water bill over the counter.
“We are very happy to speak to any customer who feels that the new arrangement does not suit their personal circumstances, to discuss payment options.
“As well as Payzone, we offer a wide range of other easy ways to pay, including telephone, direct debit, local banks and cheque. Customers can contact us on 0845 050 1868.”