DISGRUNTLED members of the Cheshire reacted angrily to the merger with Nationwide at a "special" meeting last week – and to the shock that £5 MILLION has sunk in a beleaguered Icelandic bank.
The public consultation chaired by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), held at Macclesfield Town Hall on Thursday, November 20, gave the Cheshire’s 440,000 members a chance to air their views.
Six account holders of the mutual had requested to speak at the meeting, while 50 had filed written complaints. But only two turned up to be heard.
Leading the charge was Sutton borough councillor Hilda Gaddum, 63, who read out a lengthy statement.
Hilda, who has been a member at the Cheshire for 35 years, is worried about job losses in Macclesfield and claims the small shareholder was "betrayed" by "unwise" decisions.
The Sutton councillor also blasted bosses for putting £5m of the society’s cash in doomed Icelandic bank Glitnir.
Her statement added: "Another question I asked was about the high pay-off to the chief executive, which I queried, when we are to lose the building society on her watch.
"I believe the whole community, savers, borrowers, workforce and the town of Macclesfield have been let down very badly by the board."
The consultation was held instead of a vote on the rescue – the normal course of action when one mutual is taken over by another.
But the FSA said the current economic situation and the state of the finances at the Cheshire warranted special circumstances.
Building society rules say the FSA must pass mergers, unless members can convince them otherwise.
A spokesman for the FSA said the results of the meeting and of the marriage between the Cheshire and the Nationwide will be published in "mid December" when it will be officially rubber stamped or thrown out.
A statement from the Cheshire added: "At the hearing, two members gave their views and the Cheshire reiterated that it had considered carefully the society’s position in the unprecedented market turmoil and believed that the best route was to join a fellow mutual organisation to ensure strength and stability for its members. The Cheshire confirms that it has £5m on deposit with Glitnir, the Icelandic bank which has been placed into administration by the Icelandic government."
Savers and depositors will now only get protection from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme on a total of £50,000 across the whole of the Cheshire-Derbyshire-Nationwide giant – as opposed to the current £50,000 per-bank limit.