Sidmouth heard from the director of the new South West Mutual bank earlier in the week:
Here’s the Vision Group’s report from the event:
SOUTH WEST MUTUAL
At the invitation of the Vision Group for Sidmouth, Directors of South West Mutual Bank recently addressed local councillors and residents on their plans to start a Mutual Bank in the South West of England, with branches in strategic locations serving local business and residential communities in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset. It’s early days for the bank yet, which is seeking to set up the region’s first member-owned high street bank. Registered as Co-operative Society 4451 under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, the bank hopes to start opening its doors to new customers as early as 2020.
The Sidmouth meeting was one of several local presentations in potential locations, which aim to seek feedback and interest levels from the communities as part of the early stage planning. Director Tony Greenham encouraged people to ‘get involved’ and sign up for the bank’s newsletter which will outline progress.
Vision Group’s Peter Murphy, one of the meeting organisers, was one to sign up, and commented: “Sidmouth has seen two high street banks leave the town, and there are no guarantees that the remaining banks will stay. As I see it, this is a potential risk to the Sid Valley’s economic stability, and one that we should take every opportunity to mitigate.”
Peter wrote the supporting comment on the bank’s website at https://southwestmutual.co.uk/get-involved.
“I led the Economic Resilience Team for the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan, which is now with the Inspector for comment and hopefully approval so the Plan can go forward to Referendum. Policies relating to land are statutory and will be Council responsibility. However, matters which relate to ensuring a resilient future which guard against future adversity arising from within the neighbourhood or from external factors are largely economic and commercial in nature.
As a member of the Sidmouth Vision Group, and a Sidmouth resident, I fully support localisation issues where there are no obvious conflicts and wish South West Mutual every success with securing a banking license and establishing a network of branches throughout the South West to serve local communities. I believe the policies outlined at the Sidmouth Public Meeting on Tues 12th March mark a much-needed return to localisation as a far more effective solution to service provision than can be provided by centralised behemoths remote from the communities they are now abandoning. The Sidmouth Vision Group were instrumental in securing Transition Town status and continue to broadly support this movement.
Localisation features significantly in the Community Actions Economic Resilience section of the Neighbourhood Plan where nurturing, supporting and developing our entrepreneurial culture is a key step in the journey towards a diversely based and resilient economy. Key components in this approach, in my opinion, are to promote East Devon as a vibrant place to live, offering a strong work-life balance, supported by a business infrastructure geared to the entrepreneurial economy.
The plan recommends in part:
- Support for the creation of facilities such as work hubs/shared spaces and premises for STEAM businesses/start-ups – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and spaces for existing Sid Valley industries/light industry/essential services.
- Encouragement for a buy local ethos within East Devon.
- Encouragement for businesses into the area including technology and internet-based industries.
- Encouragement of relocalisation’ of business through, for example encouraging contractors on public works to source locally, encouraging community and social enterprises.
I think that with a value-led service offering, with depositors’ funds being retained in the region, interest paid on current accounts, the provision of universal banking access providing customers with access to competitive services and local decision-making will be of interest to individuals, solo entrepreneurs, and local businesses from SME upwards.
I fully support East Devon District Council’s decision to make a capital investment in the bank, and hope that local, regional and district councils across the South West will support your application with both investment and as banking customers. Such a move will create jobs in the West Country, retain the essential functions needed for trade and commerce and serve the many residents who are vulnerable to the roll-out of online digital banking and need local services traditional and essential to their way of life.”