Newsletter 20 December 2016

An update from the inaugural gathering of the Customer Union

A big thank-you to all those who came to the inaugural gathering of the Customer Union for Ethical Banking in Manchester last month. It was great to meet enthusiastic supporters from all over the country for a day of lively discussion on the state of the Co-operative Bank and the direction the Customer Union should take.

We were joined by, among others, finance writer Frances Coppola, NewB CEO Dirk Coeckelbergh, Co-op Group National Members' Council chair Nick Crofts, and Amnesty UK's Peter Frankental – speakers who brought a great deal of insight on banking, cooperation and human rights. The challenges the Co-op Bank still faces to turn itself around and return to profit, as well as the need for a healthy dose of realism in what customers like us can expect from the bank in the meantime, were big themes of the day, but there was plenty of room for optimism about the difference a customer union can make.

At the end of the meeting we decided on a resolution covering three points: 1. to maintain a constant watch on the Co-operative Bank and hold it to account on its ethical policy; 2. To find suitable electronic methods for members to contribute to Customer Union decisions; and 3. To begin work on establishing a fund to build a cooperative shareholding in the bank.

You can read a short summary of the meeting on-line here, or a longer version we’ve written for Ethical Consumer Magazine - here. Rob Harrison, co-founder of Ethical Consumer magazine gave an introduction which helps set the campaign in context - you can watch it here.

The Customer Union is open for new members

It has taken some work behind the scenes, but our website at www.saveourbank.coop is now fitted with the necessary technological wizardry for new members to join the Customer Union and pay their £12 a year membership fee by direct debit, credit card or PayPal. Just go to the site and click “Join us”.

We can be a more effective force for holding the Co-op Bank to account if we can grow our movement and ensure more of the bank’s millions of customers know we are out there. So one thing you can do to help this week is forward this email to anyone you know who might be a Co-op Bank customer to spread the word. And if you are a supporter not already a full member, please consider joining to help us be a more effective force together for achieving our goals - to make sure the bank sticks to its customer-led ethical policy, and ultimately to help the bank return to co-operative ownership. 

Here’s to a successful 2017!

Thanks and best wishes for the Christmas and holiday season

The Save Our Bank team