‘Scrooge’ store turns away charity vouchers

Tesco refused to accept christmas vouchers. Lionel Cashin, Frank Townshend and Mayor Peter Hemmerman
Tesco refused to accept christmas vouchers. Lionel Cashin, Frank Townshend and Mayor Peter Hemmerman

A Market Weighton supermarket has been dubbed a ‘Scrooge’ after it refused to accept charity vouchers in a scheme the store had asked to be a part of.

Market Weighton United Charities Christmas vouchers are no longer accepted at Tesco after they said they were unable to wait until January to receive payment for the goods.

The scheme, which has been running in its current form for decades, sees charity vouchers handed out to those on a low pension in exchange for produce and goods at shops in the area.

The charity then “settles up” with the stores for the vouchers in January.

Mayor of Market Weighton and former chairman of the charity, Peter Hemmerman said: “Tesco approached the charity early in December saying they wanted to be part of the voucher scheme.

“We hand out the vouchers in mid December to the pensioners and we go round to the stores in January and pay them.”

The charity was then told that Tesco had received £1,000 in vouchers in one day and would not be able to carry this debt over until January.

An emergency meeting of the charities trustees was held and it was decided to pay Tesco now. Cllr Hemmerman resigned as chairman over this issue.

When the charity’s clerk, Cllr Frank Townshend, went to pay Tesco the money, the store only had £380 worth of vouchers but asked for the remaining amount as a down payment.

Refusing to pay upfront, Tesco refused to continue to accept the vouchers.

Frank Townshed, who is also a Market Weighton town councillor, said: “This is the first time that Tesco wanted to be a part of it but they have decided it is too risky.It’s very disappointing, I have put their name on the list of stores on the vouchers. It must be extremely embarrassing to have a basket full of food and be turned away.”

He added: “I have starting putting some posters up around the town calling them Scrooge. This is the season of goodwill and there’s no goodwill at all unless they’re making money out of it.”

This year, 99 people received vouchers from the charity which came to just under £3,000.

“Small traders have been carrying this debt [until January] for years without a problem.”

Cllr Hemmerman added: “We’ve been trying to let everyone know. We’ve had people going in there and being told they couldn’t accept them and turned away with a basket of shopping.”

The charity hands out vouchers worth £30 to each person to around 99 people.

“I think it shows them in their true light. They’re trying to be part of the community but all that matters to them is the bottom line.”

The Co-operative and several other shops accept the vouchers for essential and food items they can not be used to buy alcohol or cigarettes.

Now Tesco has apologised for what they call a misunderstanding.

Tesco Market Weighton store manager Rob Carley said, “We’re really sorry for the confusion over our involvement in the voucher scheme. We think it’s a great way to support the community and whilst we’re unable to take part this year I’ve started discussions on how we can participate in 2017.

“We’ll also reimburse the costs that have accrued to date as a gesture of goodwill. We continue to support the community in Market Weighton in many other ways and always appreciate feedback from our customers.”