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Community bank suggestion from credit union
AN organisation which helps Darlington people suffering financial difficulties has written an open letter to the town with the suggestion of forming a community bank.
Darlington Credit Union (DCU) is a savings and loans co-operative owned and run by members.
It encourages regular savings and makes loans at low rates of interest, as well as helping those at risk of falling prey to loan sharks.
DCU celebrated its third anniversary last year following its creation as an amalgamation of four smaller credit unions in the town.
Co-ordinator Tony Brockley said a community bank under the DCU banner would not see an end to credit union services, but that they would be augmented by traditional banking products such as current accounts, online banking and mortgages.
Mr Brockley said: “What we are hoping comes from this is that it will get more people engaged and investing in us.
"The more investment we get, the quicker the business model builds."
DCU has grown its membership base and the balances it holds substantially in recent years and would need to further increase these levels to provide banking services.
The open letter calls on the people of Darlington to support the idea.
It reads: “All [the community bank] needs is the support of the people of Darlington and one day soon this could be a reality.
“How many times have we heard people complain about their banks?
“We complain when they become a drain on the taxpayer because of their ill-advised investment strategies.
“We complain when they compound that by using tax payers monies to pay inflated bonuses to already wealthy individuals. But what do we do? Nothing.
“If you are a disillusioned bank customer, a financially excluded person, an investor, an employer or employee, a public sector worker or private sector, a member of a group, society or organisation everyone can play their part.”
The community bank, like the credit union, would be owned and run by its members as a not-for profit organisations.
Mr Brockley said members would have security of investment and there would also be a pledge to open sub-branches, not close them, as happened with the Cockerton branch of Barclays earlier this year.
The letter points to successful examples of community banks elsewhere in the UK and abroad.
For more information, visit darlingtoncreditunion.co.uk or call 01325-520005.