Newsletter 11 December 2015
Four days to go! Co-op Bank customer union stretch target within reach
Four days left to become first-wave member of the customer union. Update on account closures campaign.
Firstly, if you have already pledged to join the customer union, our heartfelt thanks – and our apologies for another email urging you to pledge. We don’t have a way of determining who on our mailing list has pledged and who hasn’t. So, please bear with us for a few more days.
But for everyone who hasn’t yet pledged – there are just four more days to go before our crowdfunder closes.
Thousands of you signed up to this mailing list to help make sure the Co-op Bank keeps its ethical policy in place, and to help work towards the bank returning to co-operative ownership. We believe the customer union is the way for us to move forward with these aims – with enough resources to hold the bank to account effectively, and a real co-operative that can build a shareholding in the bank. We’re already growing the customer voice in how the bank is run, and we’ve won a big victory in ensuring the bank didn’t ditch any of its ethical commitments.
So, please join us on the next step of this journey, and pledge from £12 to join the union.
We hope the bank will see sense on recent account closures, but for us this issue serves to show why a customer union is needed.
Tweet: Support the #SaveOurBank Crowdfunder to build a co-operative union of Co-op Bank customers: last few days! http://s.coop/cuebfunder
Facebook: I've pledged to join the UK's first customer union, for customers of the Co-op Bank. If you're a Co-op Bank customer, check it out and help them reach their stretch crowdfunding target! Just a few days to go. http://s.coop/cuebfunder
Response from the bank on account closures
The Co-op Bank has responded to our open letter on the closure of accounts for groups working to support Palestinians. (Since writing the open letter, other account closures of groups working in Cuba and Nicaragua have come to light. We list them here. If you know of any other related account closures for community groups, please let us know.)
In his response - full text here - the chief executive, Niall Booker, confirms that the decision was made by the Bank's management and has “not been influenced by external agencies or our shareholders”. It also confirms that the Values and Ethics Committee was consulted and gave its support for the decision “whilst noting it was primarily a legal and regulatory issue and not one of ethics and values”.
This answers some of the questions we put to the bank. We still want to know why the bank is closing accounts rather than helping legitimate groups to provide aid in Palestine, Cuba, Nicaragua or anywhere else deemed “high risk locations”.
The response says that the bank cannot “avoid our legal and regulatory obligations.” But let’s be clear. There is no legal or regulatory reason why the Co-op Bank cannot operate a bank account for any of these groups. If the bank believes there is, it should set out its case clearly. In all the cases we know of, these groups have found accounts at other banks. Are these other banks breaking the law? Of course there will be a need to scrutinise and in some cases stop specific transactions, but closing over 20 accounts with little explanation is the wrong approach.
Let’s show the bank the strength of feeling that exists on this issue. Over 2,000 people have already signed a petition calling on the bank to rethink this. Please join them, sign the petition, and share.
Tweet: Tell @CoopBankUK: Stop closing accounts of Palestine/Cuba support groups! Sign the @38_degrees petition http://s.coop/stopaccclosures #SaveOurBank
Facebook: Please sign this 38 Degrees petition telling The Co-operative Bank to stop closing the accounts of groups working to support Palestinians and other people in “high risk areas” http://s.coop/stopaccclosures
We want the bank to change its position on this because it is a mistake. Some people have closed their accounts in protest at what the bank is doing. We urge supporters to stay with the campaign and with the bank. We explain why here.
It is at times like this that we hope the union of customers can have an impact.
With best wishes,
The Save Our Bank team