BUSINESS owners in Oxton fear that a faulty cash-point is having a potentially devastating effect on trade in the village.

Situated in Village Road, the HSBC machine was ram-raided four months ago and, as a result, was out of action for five weeks, while a new one was installed.

But within the last three months, the new machine - which was installed near the former site of a HSBC bank - has broken down frequently, remaining out of action for days and, sometimes, weeks at a time. Its malfunction is causing concern for businesses who rely on its usage by customers.

Patrick Toosey, chairman of The Oxton Society, which promotes the village as a conservation area, has been in contact with HSBC to try and resolve the problem.

They are not blaming HSBC for the machine’s problem. In fact they say the organisation is doing all it can to sort the problem out.

Mr Toosey told the Globe: "Since its installation, the machine's performance has been extraordinarily erratic. It's been out of action almost as much as it's been in action.

"It's a pity, because up until the machine was replaced we’d given very high marks to HSBC, because when they were selling the site of the former bank, they were going to withdraw the cash machine altogether. Fortunately they didn't.

"The cash machine is critical to the village and needs to be working seven days a week. It's just unfortunate that the machine is faulty.

"There are 20-plus shops in the village and about 10 eating establishments, and all of those are suffering quite considerably because of this. In some cases, takings are down between 25-30 per cent.

"The problem is that people come to the village, nip out of the shops or restaurants to the machine to get their cash, utter a curse when they find the machine doesn’t work and then go off to Sainsbury’s or Tesco's. It's a real downer.

"Businesses won't close if the machine continues to break down, but the lack of a cash machine would give them a hell of a hit, which they don’t want, particularly in the current economic climate."

Pauline Williams who runs a business over the road from the machine, said: "Some cash machines run out of money, but this one just stops.

"As a business owner, it doesn't affect me getting money, because I can just get in my car and drive to a machine that works.

"But there are a lot of older residents and if the cash point isn't working, they may have to get a bus to Birkenhead or the nearest Sainsbury, which for some can be difficult.

"In the long-term it could have a devastating affect on businesses in the area. If you can't get cash out of the machine, you won’t be able to shop in some places."

A spokesman for HSBC told the Globe that the problem with the cash point had been identified, adding: "Problems like this are something we take very seriously. We understand how vital cash points are to the local community.

"We are aware of the problem with this particular machine in Village Road and have prioritised this with a view to rectifying the issue."