A CONTROVERSIAL decision to shut down Bulwell Credit Union has come under fire from the leader of Nottingham City Council.
Coun Jon Collins (Lab) said: “I am really concerned about the potential impact of the closure.”
The credit union was based in the Wilkinsons store, next to Bulwell Market Place, and a notice on the premises says members can contact Nottingham Credit Union on Maid Marian Way.
Credit unions are member-owned financial co-operatives. They are democratically controlled by their members and operate to promote thrift, provide credit at competitive rates and offer financial services to their members.
Coun Collins said: “This decision has come at a time when many families are facing real financial difficulties.
“They are struggling to cope with a rise in the cost of living and added problems such as the Government’s bedroom tax.”
Originally based at the former Red Lion Community Centre, Bulwell Credit Union was a major success story when first formed and received enthusiastic support from the local community.
Bulwell’s Labour MP, Graham Allen, has also expressed ‘concern and disappointment’ about the closure.
But Ella Ferris, the general manager of Nottingham Credit Union, said: “This was a very difficult decision and one we knew would not be popular.
“We are working with Nottingham City Homes to enable members to use their cash offices at Bulwell’s Riverside Centre and we hope this will be up and running pretty soon. This will mean extended opening hours.
“Nottingham Credit Union took over the operations of Bulwell Credit Union and has run the Bulwell offices at a loss for a number of years.
“Despite the fact that more than 40 per cent of our members are from the Bulwell/Aspley area, the numbers using the office were reducing month on month.
“We have seen a 75 per cent reduction in transactions at Bulwell during the past year.
“Members are already making use of our extended hours in Nottingham and other products such as current accounts and prepaid cards.
“In July 2013 we had a robbery at our Nottingham offices, forcing us to look at the security of all our branches. The cost of updating the Bulwell branch would have been in the region of £30,000.
“Our staff and volunteers complained of feeling unsafe and the board had to take decisive action.
“This is why we approached City Homes about working wit them.
“Although we are a not-for-profit organisation, we need to break even financially.”