Public support for Mansfield credit union fight

Order from Left to right - Mark Fretwell, Stuart Richardson, Sonya Ward, Agnieszka Drozdz, Rev Keith Hebden & Steve Yemm
Order from Left to right - Mark Fretwell, Stuart Richardson, Sonya Ward, Agnieszka Drozdz, Rev Keith Hebden & Steve Yemm

Campaigners fighting to save an ethical lender in Mansfield say they have had an ‘amazing response’ from people in the town at the weekend.

Sonya Ward, deputy leader of the Labour group on Mansfield District Council, and Rev Keith Hebden collected more than 200 signatures on Saturday, as part of a last-ditch bid to keep the town’s branch of the Nottingham Credit Union open and force mayor Tony Egginton to honour a council pledge to help keep it float.

Along with other campaigners, they collected petitions outside the offices of pay-day lenders around the town, as part of a bid to force a debate of the full council, after the authority pledged £45,000 to the credit union and Mansfield’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau in January.

Coun Ward said: “The amount of support we received from members of the public was absolutely amazing - there was a really strong feeling amongst those we spoke to that pay-day lenders are driving people further into poverty.”

At the January meeting of the authority, it was agreed that the cash would be set aside to help fund both organisations as part of the council’s 2013/14 budget.

Members agreed that the cash would be deducted from the £91,094 allocated to cabinet members for expenses for the same financial period.

The money was set aside as part of a council bid to support ethical lenders in Mansfield, and fight the booming growth in legal loan sharks.

But politicians have accused Mr Egginton of trying to scupper the deal by delaying the payment and have now created the petition to force a debate at full council.

So far, more than 400 signatures have been collected, since the petition was launched two weeks ago, Coun Ward said.

Campaigners need 1,000 signatures by 27th October to trigger a debate in council, putting pressure on Mr Egginton to explain why the hand-out has not been paid.

The group will be collecting signatures again on Saturday, and said they are confident that the target will be reached.

Mayor Egginton told the Chad that he had been involved in extensive talks with the credit union.

“We are moving this ussue along and making a lot of progress,” he said.

Pictured (from left) are Mark Fretwell, Stuart Richardson, Sonya Ward, Agnieszka Drozdz, Rev Keith Hebden & Steve Yemm collecting signatures as part of a bid to save Mansfield’s credit union at the weekend.

To sign the petition online, go to http://petitions.mansfield.gov.uk/NCU-CAB.