David Cameron, Prime Minister, & Ross McEwan, RBS Chief Executive, discuss Woodstock NatWest

Is this good enough?  The RBS Chief, Ross McEwan, responded to David Cameron’s letter about the campaign we are all part of to save the Woodstock branch. If taken on face value you might think many of the queries have been remedied. Think again. These are the points I have asked Mr Cameron to go back and get confirmed:

“But please delve below the banking speak and go back to the man that is running the bank that we all own and ask for clarification on the following points: 

  • RM says: “we have reached an agreement with the local post office – which is only a short walk away – that currently allows our customers to take money out, check balances and pay bills free of charge”
  • Q: the implication is that a one-off agreement has been reached with this one PO. Is this correct? Because if it is NOT then “customers” does NOT include business customers. Are they no longer to be considered “customers” by RBS? In addition has the bank come to an agreement with the PO on how the elderly and disabled will be served, given that the access to the PO is extremely difficult?
  • “in the coming months we will increase that offering to allow customers to deposit cash and cheques as well”
  • Q: the implication is that this agreement is close to completion and will be available in the next few months, is this correct? If so could the detail of the agreement actually be outlined because none of the other main high street banks have achieved this function so far with the PO? Also can you confirm if your customers from the business community continue to be excluded from this?
  • “We also intend to keep the ATM in place at the branch”
  • Q: what does “intend” mean? Research by locals suggests that the ATM will be run by a third party: is this correct? Why would you suggest that the bank are keeping this function themselves? How long will this facility continue to be free if the bank does not own the ATM?

There are many more questions that remain unanswered, however, these questions sound huge alarm bells that the local community deserve to have truly transparent answers to, don’t you agree?”

What do you think? Are RBS being straight with the community about why they are leaving? is Ross McEwan being transparent in his response to our Prime Minister?

I know what I think and I know what I will continue to do: CAMPAIGN!

If you would like more information, a copy of the full letter exchange between them or simply to add your support email us at: campaign@community-buying.com

A night to celebrate all of our people

My amazing team, representing every amazing person that has ever worked for or with CBL, collecting the certificate for Micro Business Award finalists at the West Oxfordshire Business Awards dinner at Heythrop Park
RARELY KNOWN TO PUT ON A SUIT…BUT EVENING TAILS?          Katy Cameron & Faye Parker: my amazing team, collecting the certificate for Micro Business Award finalists, on behalf of every amazing person that has ever worked for or with CBL
Katy Cameron, Ana Bonasera & Faye Parker each have played a significant role in our journey...I am humbled they are so proud to tell the world all about our achievements
THEY TAUGHT ME SO MUCH ABOUT MY OWN BUSINESS BY INSISTING THAT WE BE INVOLVED IN THESE AWARDS!  Katy Cameron, Ana Bonasera & Faye Parker…each have played a significant role in our journey…I am humbled they are so proud of what they are part of they wanted to tell the world all about our achievements
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REPRESENTING SO MANY BRILLIANT PEOPLE THAT HAVE ADDED THEIR UNIQUE ABILITIES AND TALENTS ON A WHOLE BUNCH OF PROJECTS OVER THE FOUR YEARS: Anthony Russell & Ana Bonasera
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THE COLLABORATORS – A RICH TAPESTRY OF SUPPORTERS, ADVOCATES, BACKERS & MENTORS WE THANK YOU ALL: Paul & Jo Rockwood 
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THERE ON BEHALF OF ALL OUR MEMBERS – YOUNG AND OLD – AND ALSO THE GREATEST MENTOR OF ALL: Mrs Pomfret!
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A MAVERICK NEEDS A PERFECT FOIL – TRUE PARTNERSHIP: Hannah Jago
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IT MAY APPEAR DARK BUT SHE IS AN INSPIRATIONAL LIGHT IN CBL: Hannah Jago
Brendan Cross of Hexagon Business Centres presents the award certificate to Micro Business Award finalists Community Buying Unlimited - Katy Cameron, Chris Pomfret & Faye Parker - at the West Oxfordshire Business Awards dinner at Heythrop Park Picture: Ric Mellis
THE APPLICATION & THE INTERVIEW PROCESS WERE HUGE LEARNING EXPERIENCES FOR ME – WHEN DO BUSINESS OWNERS GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO REFLECT ON & THEN PRESENT AGAINST EXTREMELY TOUGH COMPETITION WHAT MAKES THEIR BUSINESS BEYOND NORMAL LEVELS OF SPECIAL? Brendon Cross of Hexagon Business Centres presenting the award certificate to Micro Business Award finalists Community Buying Unlimited – Katy Cameron, Chris Pomfret & Faye Parker – at the West Oxfordshire Business Awards dinner at Heythrop Park.  Picture: Ric Mellis      WE TRULY DID HAVE A SPLENDID GALA EVENING – WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK WOBA FOR PULLING TOGETHER SUCH AN EXTRAORDINARY EVENT THAT WILL LAST MUCH LONGER THAN ONE NIGHT

We are always happy to hear your feedback: chris@community-buying.com

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Peace of mind.

For one whole day my mind was completely at ease. History suggests that Christmas Day has been a day of such peace for many in extraordinary situations and, whilst I am not suggesting that my day of peace was anything like a football match in no man’s land between two warring nations, it was an amazing day for me. My true love is simple…the people in my life. I got to spend the whole of The First Day of Christmas 2013 with those special ones…the three extraordinary women – spanning three generations – in my life and this little chap that has brought happiness, harmony and delightful moments of joy.

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I hope that you got to spend your day with your special ones…and enjoyed the same day of peace in your mind.

A heartwarming Christmas story in pictures

How did a tiny community based, ethical business in West Oxfordshire:  community-buying.jpg

create processional effects of such power that one little girl in Sri Lanka:

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has been given the gift of freedom for Christmas?

This is a heartwarming Christmas story, that has an extraordinary ending, and it was made possible because of these two fledgling social ventures:

Ana reinvintage

Reinvintage – run by Ana Bonasera – that makes amazingly clever bespoke gifts by upcycling unwanted household items and creating something of beauty, giving them a new purpose, and:

Ems little cake stop

Em’s Little Cake Stop – run by Emma Admans – that makes home-made style gluten, dairy free cakes and pastries with a unique and fresh angle.

Young people helping young people: they decided a Christmas sale in aid of charity would be a great way to showcase their products. They chose a charity a friend and supporter, Jo Rockwood, is a patron of: Child Vision Sri Lanka. Why? They believed that young people over here could help very young people over there.

The day of the sale arrived and with it some interesting on-street marketing, with reports of local radio warning of a “scene to beware of” probably exaggerated:

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Then look who came along to help too:

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It was a resounding success. Emma’s amazing goodies like this Christmas Pudding – both gluten-free and vegetarian – went down a storm:

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and Ana’s bespoke creations were snapped up for funky unusual Christmas gifts:

2013-11-06 21.19.43 Anas tea cup candles

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And the result was? Well both stalls made a profit on the day, gained lots of new customers and lots of people had fun, all whilst they raised over £270 for the charity.

This is where I have to go back to the beginning. We are extraordinarily proud that both of these businesses grew out of CBL. The philosophy by which both is run was influenced, in many ways, by our own philosophy – true sustainability.

Sustainability: everything we do at CBL has a positive social and environmental impact – it has to or we don’t do it. Everyone that comes and works with us both understands this and usually brings fresh new ideas. Often this results in projects being created that we never intended. Both Ana and Emma are living proof of this. Imagine how proud we are of this. When the sale was planned we found out that if they raised £500 then one child living with something like Cerebral Palsy, who had never walked, would receive a wheelchair. We are delighted that we promised to pay for half a wheelchair IF the sale matched the £250. What a result – we made our contribution with the excitement that a young life would be transformed.

Extraordinary ending – I said this story had one. The guys that run the charity in Sri Lanka have been so overwhelmed that young people so far away could go to such lengths to help them, that it has built their belief that they can do anything. With five hundred British pounds in their hands they went back to the wheelchair suppliers and negotiated a new deal. The result is that they have been able to have unused wheelchairs adapted for a new purpose and this money will not just give one child the gift of freedom for Christmas, but, we could hardly believe our eyes when we saw the communication telling us, twelve! I literally gulp emotionally as I write this when I think of this scene playing out twelve times – the gift of freedom:

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Did I say ending? This surely is just the beginning for so many young lives and clearly for so much more. At CBL we are all very proud of what our two proteges have achieved to make a difference in the world.

And finally…if you would like to know more about Child Vision Sri Lanka, offer to go over and volunteer for two weeks or make a donation then please contact Jo: joanna@asiateakgroup.com. If you would like to buy a Christmas Pudding or a unique Reinvintage gift in time for Christmas then there is still time, but please move quickly and email me now! chris@community-buying.com, we love ours:

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Day Eleven: Dear David…Mr Putin is a heating OIL user’s new best friend

Heating OIL users have it tougher than any other type of energy user in the UK. It is not a suggestion, it is a fact. On every level they have it tougher, but most of all it is the exposure to the whim of world leaders that is most difficult to deal with. The most volatile energy market is impacted on an hourly basis and heating OIL users are almost entirely oblivious to how what they pay one day is linked to the events of the world from the day before.

I decided to take a break from my “Dear David” for four days because I have been watching the world literally change before my eyes. It has been incredible hasn’t it? Mr Putin’s proposal for Syria has changed our world. Ironic that the man that has won a Nobel Peace Prize didn’t think about exhausting all avenues of diplomacy before wanting to send the bombs, but let’s push that aside. The impact of this turn of events is a massive fall back in the price of crude OIL. But it is simply rectifying the “premium” that has gone on through nothing but speculation over the last two weeks. That goes on every day. Having fallen back over the last two days, the latest commentary is still trying to fuel a situation that will see prices go back up: “Analysts have warned that oil prices could spike if violence in Syria spills over into the region’s main oil producing countries”.

The key words are “could” and “if”. A heating OIL user running low and needing to fill up over the last two weeks you would have paid £50-100 more than those filling this week…on an “if” and a “could”. This is both preposterous and obscene. Heating OIL users generally have zero idea of this complexity, which is why OIL Fuel Poverty is so very difficult to deal with and has been literally forgotten. Until now that is…take a look at exactly what we are doing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhxOsIvu7UU&feature=youtu.be

This week Mr Putin has done more to protect our vulnerable heating OIL users than any other politician on the planet – including all those whose direct responsibility it is to do something. Admittedly, he had no idea he was doing so and it may be only for a week or two, but it you are filling up for the winter that is all you need. Oh the irony, this week Mr Putin has made life a little easier for many very vulnerable UK energy users, I am thinking of dropping him a thank you note.