Nick Ward: Speaking Out.

SOME say he's an old fashioned Sheffield lad.

Thursday, 20th September 2007, 9:51 am
Updated Friday, 21st September 2007, 12:46 pm

Others reckon the man is just plain daft.

Thing is, you see, he's a cash man. A bloke who prefers to feel a bundle of notes in his pocket than stick it away in a bank account.

Someone who likes to hear himself jingle when he walks.

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Definitely not one of those guys who worries about the odd bulge in the trouser pocket area.

He's a man who doesn't like plastic cards and prefers to pay bills over the counter.

This lad never does cash transfers and taking out a standing order makes as much sense to him as Chelsea parting company with Jose Mourinho or plans to build a Five Star hotel on a carpark near the Castle Market.

He's the fella who complained bitterly when Sheffield Council stopped taking council tax payments at local housing offices.

They sent him letters saying he would find it easier to pay by direct debit.

But he isn't having it. Not him mate, not Disgusted of Beighton.

He'd rather trek into town and hand his money over at Howden House, that way he can be sure they've got it and ensure he doesn't receive a computerised court summons due to late payment.

He doesn't do credit cards and stands tutting in queues at supermarkets and petrol stations while the bloke in front of him messes about punching pin numbers into a machine rather than paying in cash.

For him the repeal the Truck Acts in 1986 marked a black day in history.

Until then workers had the right to be paid in the "coin of the realm" and that meant a pay packet.

And for this lad nothing beat looking past the see-through paper to reveal the neatly folded notes and coins within.

The Wages Act gave employers the right to insist salaries could be paid directly into your bank account.

And the banks loved it.

Things would be so much easier, they said. All the bother of faffing about with bills is over, we can do that for you, at a cost.

And hey, if you had a bad month you can always rely on an overdraft or credit card facility, repayable with interest of course.

We were entirely in their hands and people, by and large, accepted it.

But not him, not likely.

Thing is, he doesn't entirely trust banks to always get things right and prefers to manage his own money.

That's why come pay-day he's down at his branch drawing his wages out.

He's the sort who likes to squirrel a bit of cash away in his piggy rather than trust a bank to keep it for him.

Ok so his cash may be safer in the bank than at home in a piggy so you would think.

Well maybe not. Not if this week’s credit squeeze inspired events are anything to go by.

He also asks how many times do you hear about identity theft when someone has their entire account emptied without their knowledge?

It happened to a friend of his who eventually got their cash back - after a 12 week investigation.

And when the friend asked how the cash had gone missing from the account the bank refused to say “for security reasons”.

He argues that if you are burgled you have a pretty good idea how access was gained and can guard against it for the future.

Yes, if this bloke had a quid or every reason for not being happy with banks he’d be a well off man. But surely the daft man is a one off. There can’t be many like him.

‘If you had a bad month you can rely on an overdraft ’

Well at least there weren’t until this week. Cue then the queues of mainly elderly savers outside the Pinstone Street branch of the Northern Rock Bank.

Like a grey tide they came, dozens at a time.

They weren’t going to trust their life savings with a bank looking about as safe as Sheffield Wednesday’s defence.

Then, like the bloke from Dad’s Army, the so called financial experts cried don’t panic. They advised those with Northern Rock accounts to leave their money where it is for the sake of our economy.

The last thing we all want to see - they said - is a banking Tsunami where everyone decides to empty their account at the same time and create a financial Armageddon.

But the last thing the grey tide wanted to see was a bank go under with all their money.

Despite backing from the mother of all banks, The Bank of England, the queues of people desperate to get their cash lengthened, until the government issued a guarantee that everyone’s money is safe.

The prospect of losing life savings has proved a massive wake up call for many. Perhaps they should have listened to the daft bloke a bit more.