A BUSINESSMAN seeking a coronavirus bounce back loan was told he would have to see a bank manager – on November 4 in Bognor Regis.

Bournemouth-based Adrian Hopper was left high and dry when his own bank, Tide, stopped offering the government-guaranteed loans.

He turned to Barclays, which has been inundated with requests.

He was told he would have to meet a manager in a branch – and the next appointment was more than three months later and 71 miles away in West Susssex.

Mr Hopper was a salaried employee for 20 years but started his own sales and marketing agency, Creative Discipline, last year.

When the coronavirus crisis hit, he found he “fell through the gaps” in the chancellor’s system of support for businesses.

“We took advantage of the mortgage holidays etc but we did want to try and look at ways to bring in some money,” he said.

His business account was with Tide, which joined the bounce back loan scheme but could not secure enough funding to meet demand. It halted lending with 70,000 customers reportedly on its waiting list.

Mr Hopper tried phoning Barclays, one of the few big banks taking new customers. “I was 3-4 hours on the phone trying to get through to them. I finally got through to a very helpful and polite woman who was very useful but she said because of your circumstances you will have to go to a branch to meet a branch manager,” he said.

He said appointments were particularly hard to come by locally. “So she went off looking at Salisbury, Southampton and Portsmouth. Finally she came back and said ‘I can get you a branch meeting on November 4 in Bognor’.”

Mr Hopper, originally from Northern Ireland, added: “I had to Google to find out where that was.”

A Barclays spokesperson said: “We are very sorry for the wait time Mr Hopper is facing in accessing a bounce back loan through Barclays. We’ve supported thousands of UK businesses with around 250,000 bounce back loans totalling around £7.7billion and continue to work extraordinarily hard to get loans into the hands of our own customers, as well as supporting customers of other banks.

“We will book customers in for appointments as quickly as we can to carry out the necessary checks required as part of the scheme, and where capacity allows are bringing these forward.”

In a letter to customers, Tide chief executive Oliver Prill wrote last month that “the design of the government’s bounce back loan scheme doesn’t meet the requirements of our prospective funding partners to be able to provide the funding for us to lend to you”.

“While we made it clear when registering on our waiting list that we couldn’t guarantee a bounce back loan for every eligible business who registered, and we suggested that you should sign up with alternative lenders as well, we do know that many of you were counting on Tide,” he said.

“We’re very sorry that on this occasion we couldn’t rise to this challenge and meet your expectations.”

Tide is calling for the government to fund the loans rather than just guarantee them.