Fresh from our second annual gathering a fortnight ago, here is this month’s newsletter with an update on the gathering, our new board, and the vote from Customer Union members on whether to stay or go.
Customer Union members vote to stay with the bank
At the start of November, we asked members of the Customer Union to vote on whether to accept the rescue deal agreed by the Co-op Bank with its investors. We recommended a vote to stay with the bank for now, and you can read the reason for our recommendation here.
Out of the 1,238 paid-up members of the Customer Union, we received 530 votes - a 43% turnout. Of these, 510 votes were to accept the deal and stick with the bank - 96%. 18 voted to leave and 2 abstained.
Our support for the bank will always be contingent on its continued adherence to the ethical principles it claims are ‘part of its DNA’. For the moment, it’s clear members overwhelmingly support staying, and we’re pleased to have a firm mandate to continue working to hold the bank to account and to grow our influence.
New six-person board for the Customer Union
The gathering in Manchester on Saturday 18th November began with a general meeting of the Customer Union cooperative and the election of a new six-person board. The three current board members, Ryan Brightwell, Shaun Fensom and Rob Harrisson were re-elected, and were joined by Carol Davenport from Cheshire, Rachel White from Scunthorpe, and Tom Druitt from Brighton, all members of the Customer Union. This expanded board will meet quarterly, and we’re thankful to Carol, Rachel and Tom for bringing their expertise and enthusiasm to the Union board.
A short report from the Save Our Bank gathering
With the vote settled and a new board in place, the gathering focused on taking stock of where we are and considering next steps. We were also pleased to be joined for part of the meeting by Paul Lawler, head of Values and Ethics and Communications at the Co-op Bank - the first time the bank has been represented at one of our meetings, and a great chance to ask him some difficult questions. You can view his remarks to the gathering here.
One big topic at the meeting was the pros and cons of developing a more structured relationship with the bank. Given its apparent openness to real customer influence, some form of structured relationship probably makes sense, provided we can retain our independence. The question for the Customer Union members and the board now is what form that should take.
The gathering left us brimming with ideas for 2018 and beyond, while mindful of the challenges faced by both the bank and our own organisation. Thanks to everyone who joined! We’ll have a fuller report of the gathering with you by the time of our next newsletter, and we’ll consult with all our members soon on our priorities for the year ahead.
With best wishes from the Save our Bank team
The Save Our Bank team