'PUNITIVE' withdrawal charges have been brought in at a well-used cash machine on an Oxford estate.

The only ATM in Barton, next to the shops in Underhill Circus, is now charging 99 pence for use.

Residents will have to travel to Headington to find their nearest free machine, and there are concerns that cash-only businesses in the area will suffer.

East Oxford MP Anneliese Dodds has criticised the change, which came in at the end of November.

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She said: “The charges will disproportionately affect many residents who rely on cash for budgeting or day-to-day payments.

“It is imperative that people can access their own money without being charged for the privilege.

“Worryingly, this part of a national trend.

“I will continue to campaign against these charges."

Katy Cockram, who lives in Barton and is part of the neighbourhood watch, said: “It’s really inconvenient.

“It’s the only place in Barton with a cash machine.

“They are taking advantage by charging in an area that’s known not to be wealthy.”

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Martyn Rush, Oxford city councillor for Barton and Sandhills, said: "It's going to affect a lot of people - it's punitive and unfair. It's really disappointing.

"The businesses have been built up around it, assuming it's going to be free.

"A couple of those businesses are cash-only and they are going to suffer because of this."

The ATM in Barton is one of thousands in the UK operated by a company called NoteMachine.

Mr Rush said he was aware of other NoteMachines in Oxford starting to charge, including one at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

In April, NoteMachine blamed Link, which is the network ATMs in the UK are part of.

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ATM operators receive money called an interchange fee from banks, each time one of their cash machines is used, but Link began to cut this fee last year.

NoteMachine said it would be forced to introduce charges at thousands of terminals to ensure its operation stays viable.

Its chief executive Peter McNamara said at the time: "We believe very strongly that ATM cash is a public utility which should be preserved as free-to-use for the benefit of millions of consumers who depend on cash.

"Unless urgent action is taken to [reverse] the interchange fee reductions, NoteMachine will be forced to begin converting ATMs to surcharging."

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According to LINK's map of ATMs, there are still some NoteMachine points in Oxford that are not yet charging.

Locations include outside M&S in Queen Street, Duhok News in Iffley Road, Metro Bank in Queen Street, and two at the Westgate Centre.

According to a Which? report in September, one in 10 of Britain’s free-to-use cash machines either closed or started charging a fee in the past 17 months, with the poorest communities hit hardest.

Link is inviting people to suggest new sites for free ATMs in their local communities, by emailing info@link.co.uk.