Santander backtracks on circus group account ban

Lucy Tucker of Circus Uncertainty Circus Uncertainty was founded by circus performers Lucy Tucker (pictured) and Joshua Morris

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A circus group which was denied a bank account because its showgirl and burlesque acts posed a "moral problem" has now been offered the account.

Circus Uncertainty co-founder Joshua Morris had applied for a Santander business account in a Bristol branch with the bank's business manager.

He later received a call saying the group could not bank with the company due to the nature of its acts.

Mr Morris told BBC News Santander had now reversed its decision.

"Santander have offered us an account, but we're not sure whether to take it - we've been offered accounts with other banks now," the performer said.

He added his uncertainty was due to the way in which his business was treated, as well as the lack of communication from Santander to review its decision.

"They wouldn't get in contact with us until we went to the papers," Mr Morris said.

'Misunderstanding'

The circus performer was given no indication the account application would be turned down after initially answering questions about the business in branch.

However it was denied after it emerged staff looked at Circus Uncertainty's website, featuring co-founder Lucy Tucker in a showgirl costume, dressed in a bikini and feather bustle.

"They were beating around the bush trying not to say it, but eventually said it was a problem because we sell showgirl and burlesque acts," Mr Morris said.

Circus Uncertainty The circus group has demonstrated its skills - including acrobatics and stilt walking - at Glastonbury and other festivals

A Santander spokeswoman said: "We are committed to supporting the local business community and we have reviewed this account application following some clarification of the nature of the business.

"We are now in discussions with the business owner about his application and we hope to reach a positive outcome in the coming days.

"We are very sorry for any concern or inconvenience that our initial misunderstanding may have caused."

Burlesque and showgirl acts are one of many the circus group perform, along with fire shows, acrobatics, hand balancing, juggling, stilt walkers and trapeze work.

The group has performed at Glastonbury as well as festivals in Bristol.

The company also runs family friendly workshops and events and had wanted to set up the business bank account to enable it to apply for Arts Council funding to help run a charity programme.

Hate mail

Ms Tucker had planned a non-profit scheme to entertain terminally ill children in Bristol this summer, with the funding intended to help pay for costumes.

"Our performers are willing to do it for free, but we're trying to get costumes in order to bring children their favourite characters like Bob the Builder which cost £400- £500 apiece," Mr Morris said.

He added his company had received hate mail since the Santander issue was first reported in the press, after it was inferred Circus Uncertainty was applying for government help to sustain the business.

"We're getting hate mail from people saying it's disgusting we're applying for tax payer's money," Mr Morris said.

"The only reason we want to apply for the Arts Council funding is for the terminally ill child programme, so it's been taken the wrong way - it's just to buy costumes."

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