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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Deal to revive Millom credit union edges closer

EFFORTS to keep loan sharks and pay-day money lenders at bay in Millom could be a step closer.

Following a public meeting in Millom Council Chambers last month, Whitehaven, Egremont and District Credit Union was approached about the possibility of establishing a collection point in Millom, following the collapse of Millom’s own credit union earlier this year.

Whitehaven’s board of directors will meet next week to make a decision on the proposal.

Alan Clegg, from Waberthwaite, was a saver in Millom Credit Union before it was shut down in April by the Financial Services Authority for failing to submit several accounts on time last year.

At last month’s meeting, Mr Clegg agreed to contact Whitehaven about the proposal.

He said: “We wanted a replacement as quickly as possible. We found that to establish a new credit union from scratch could take up to three years.

“The Whitehaven credit union has a common bond for the whole of Cumbria so it can legally take members from anywhere in the county, and this is the quickest option.”

“I don’t want to be over-confident because it’s up to Whitehaven to decide, but my personal aim is to get something in place before Christmas.”

Millom town councillor Pauline Altree, former secretary and board member of Millom Credit Union, said: “We have always maintained that without a credit union in Millom the door could be open to loan sharks and high interest loan providers.

“We have convinced quite a lot of people over the years to avoid the temptation to use them, and they have all thanked us.

“It’s very sad that the previous credit union closed but we want to get a replacement up as quickly as possible. Where else can people struggling on benefits go and get a loan of £250 and pay it back at a rate of £2 a week?”

Andrea Dockeray, manager of Whitehaven credit union, confirmed the board would meet on July 24 to decide on the proposal.

Mr Clegg said establishing the new collection point could incur costs, but he feels confident that funding could be provided by Cumbria County Council alongside other bodies.

A second public meeting will be held in Millom Council Chambers on Friday at 2pm, to discuss potential locations for the collection point and to discuss volunteers.

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