A Community Savings Bank for Glastonbury?

Do we want to create a new type of community-owned, mutual bank in the South West?  This was the question posed at a meeting held on 12th October in Glastonbury Town Hall – organised by the Last Bank Standing team with the ‘Royal Society of Arts’ and the ‘Community Savings Bank Association’…

Do you want to own a Community Bank?

Imagine if there was a bank dedicated to the South West that put the welfare of its local communities before profits.  A bank that helped local economies to grow by supporting all residents to upskill, regardless of their financial means.  A bank that empowered people to grow their ideas into thriving local businesses.  A bank that people trusted.  What might the South West look like in twenty or thirty years time?

During the evening, the RSA’s Director of Economics, Tony Greenham, discussed the economic and social case for regional banks, and explored the opportunities and challenges of creating a truly co-operative bank dedicated to the South West.

The need for regional banking was highlighted in the RSA’s Inclusive Growth Commission, which highlighted that the lack of access to appropriate banking and financial tools can have a serious impact on people on low incomes or with a poor financial history, as well as on SMEs and micro businesses.

Incredibly, there are over 1.7 million adults in the UK that don’t have a bank account, while at the same time the pace of branch closures has accelerated rapidly, leaving 1,500 communities without a bank – as we are well aware here in Glastonbury!

Whilst already severe, these challenges are likely to become even more acute in the context of Brexit and upcoming reforms to local government financing.  There has never been a more urgent need to rebalance the UK economy.

The RSA are supporting the Community Savings Bank Association to create a UK-wide network of customer-owned, regional banks to serve the everyday financial needs of ordinary people, local community groups, and small and medium sized companies.

The Green Mayor of Glastonbury, Cllr Emma George, with the organisers of the South West Community Bank event
At the South West Community Bank event, L-R: Paul Manning (Glastonbury Chamber of Commerce), Tony Greenham (RSA Director of Economics), Cllr Emma George (Mayor of Glastonbury), Mark Hall (RSA Deputy Head of Engagement), and Kevin Redpath (Last Bank Standing). [photo by Jon Cousins]

The Glastonbury event explored the motivations and barriers in Glastonbury – and other local areas – to establishing this kind of bank, and the role that different stakeholders could play in catalysing the establishment of a South West bank.

To find out more, please visit the CSBA website ‘HERE

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Nationwide Comes To Glastonbury!

The Nationwide Building Society announces it is opening a new branch in Glastonbury!

Following the Glastonbury community’s high profile Last Bank Standing Campaign earlier this year, the Nationwide Building Society has spent the last three months exploring the viability of opening a new branch in the town – consulting with various stakeholders, holding an on-line poll, and taking part in the Neighbourhood Plan consultation event on 14th and 15th October in the Town Hall.

On 18th November, the Nationwide issued the following statement:

Thank you to the whole Glastonbury community and those who have joined in showing their support for us coming to the town. We’re delighted to announce that Nationwide Building Society will be opening a branch in the heart of Glastonbury next summer with the location to be agreed early next year.

We’ll work closely with the local community to make sure your branch understands the services and facilities that you need. Above all, we want to provide a branch that works for the community and that will lead to local people actively using the service and opening accounts.

There will be lots of opportunity for the town to influence and help shape the branch over the coming months and you’ll be instrumental in its future and success.”

To find out more – visit the Nationwide’s website HERE.

‘Hi-tech banking comes to town’ front page of the Central Somerset Gazette, 24th November 2016.
‘Hi-tech banking comes to town’ front page of the Central Somerset Gazette, 24th November 2016.
‘High-tech service to plug banking gap’ from Central Somerset Gazette, 24th November 2016.
‘High-tech service to plug banking gap’ from Central Somerset Gazette, 24th November 2016.

 

‘Crazy Horse’ funeral as last bank closes

Lloyds Bank is committed to the industry wide Access to Banking Protocol introduced by the British Bankers’ Association in May 2015. Before we made the decision to close the Glastonbury branch we carried out a thorough review to assess the impact of the closure on customers and the wider community.

On Tuesday 5th April, despite a huge effort by the local community to keep it open, Glastonbury last bank – Lloyds – closed for the final time…

Chief Mourners, ‘Undertaker’, Deputy, and Mayor Michell photographed by Tor Webster – at the ‘Wild South West’ funeral of ‘Crazy Horse’.
Chief Mourners, ‘Undertaker’, Deputy, and Mayor Michell photographed by Tor Webster – at the ‘Wild South West’ funeral of ‘Crazy Horse’.

Marking the event in Glastonbury’s own inimitable way, the Last Bank Standing community group organised a fourth ‘Flash Mob’ – A ‘Wild South West’ funeral procession to mourn the demise of ‘Crazy Horse’!

A hand drawn funeral-bier, carrying the Black Horse’s coffin (its legs sticking out the top!), was pulled through the packed streets by the town’s Deputy, ‘Undertaker’, and chief mourners.

Crazy Horse’s coffin arrives at Lloyds Bank - photograph by Laura Zaky
Crazy Horse’s coffin arrives at Lloyds Bank – photograph by Laura Zaky

The procession was met outside Lloyds Bank (in the High Street) by the Town Crier, the town’s Mayor, the Member of Parliament, and many of the 6,000 residents who had signed the petition to keep the bank open!

Last Bank Standing Chair, Paul Manning told reporters: “I fully agree that people are banking online, but [Lloyds] are not thinking of their customers, because 30% of them don’t. Particularly the elderly and the more socially-disadvantaged who won’t, or can’t use the internet.

Lloyds Bank published this statement: “Following our review and period of contact with local customers and key members of the local community, we have decided to proceed with the closure of the Glastonbury branch on 5 April 2016.

Glastonbury’s community replies: “WATCH THIS SPACE !

Last bank standing is set to cash up for good - Central Somerset Gazette, 31st March 2016
Last bank standing is set to cash up for good – Central Somerset Gazette, 31st March 2016
A black day as the Black Horse is laid to rest - Front Page, Central Somerset Gazette, 7th April 2016
A black day as the Black Horse is laid to rest – Front Page, Central Somerset Gazette, 7th April 2016
‘Dead horse’ wheeled to doors of last bank in protest at its closure - Central Somerset Gazette, 7th April 2016
‘Dead horse’ wheeled to doors of last bank in protest at its closure – Central Somerset Gazette, 7th April 2016

OTHER MEDIA COVERAGE:

ITV NEWS: Protestors replace bank sign with horse leaving town [30th March 2016]

Protestors replace bank sign with horse leaving town

WESTERN DAILY PRESS: Last bank in Glastonbury to shut next week [31st March 2016]

glastonbury_banks_campaign_logo2_0

BBC ONE: Glastonbury Lloyds to shut despite 6,000 signature petition [5th April 2016]

BBC 6000 petition

ITV WEST: Glastonbury’s last remaining bank closes its doors [5th April 2016]

ITV Last bank closes doors

Central Somerset Gazette: Last bank closes in Glastonbury as ‘dead horse’ led to its door in mock funeral protest [7th April 2016]

CSG Mock funeral photographs by Jason Bryant

This bird has flown…

Glastonbury’s branch of Barclays Bank closed its doors for the last time on Friday 4th March 2016.  Glastonbury’s community turned out en masse to demonstrate how they felt about it; cameras from ITV and BBC were there to capture the town’s third Flash Mob protest organised by the Last Bank Standing.

Glastonbury’s response to the expected closure of all the town’s banks has been hailed as an inspiration by other communities facing the same fate; has caught the attention of the national press – and even prompted acknowledgment at Prime Minister’s Questions, when the MP for Glastonbury, James Heappey, asked David Cameron if he would encourage the banks “to think again”.

The Barclays’ Flash Mob follows hot on the heals of the hugely successful ‘Crazy Horse’ – developed into a spoof ‘Spaghetti Western’, which has received over 2,000 views on YouTube!

Crazy Horse still Blog 6

More community action is planned for 5th April – the date when Lloyds Bank threaten to close Glastonbury’s last bank for good…  It could very well end with a ‘show down’ between the Deputy and the Black Horse !!!

Last Bank Standing’s Paul Manning told ITV: “There’s still a chance Lloyds could change their minds, but I think it’s also sending a message out there, to the banks, that they’ve really got to live up to the promises that they’re making to their customers!

The campaign continues…

Protests rise as last banks in town get ready to close - Central Somerset Gazette, 25th February 2016
Protests rise as last banks in town get ready to close – Central Somerset Gazette, 25th February 2016
Fight to keep town’s last bank open - Central Somerset Gazette, 10th March 2016
Fight to keep town’s last bank open – Central Somerset Gazette, 10th March 2016

ITV WEST: Protesters march on Glastonbury over bank closure [4th March 2016]

ITV Barclays' closure 2

Do you like your spaghetti (South) Western?

Listening to hundreds of local people during the past few months, the over-riding concern for many in Glastonbury is the closure of all the town’s banks.  By April – when Lloyds close their door for the last time – Glastonbury will no longer have a High Street Bank…

Glastonbury is not unique; towns up and down the country are facing the same situation! Traders who will struggle to get enough coins and notes for change, or to deal with cash at the end of the day; people being excluded – especially older members of our communities, who do not use the internet or who feel uncomfortable dealing with banks over the phone…

Do the banks care? ” – a question raised at one of the packed public meetings; “we can’t boycott them! Everyone needs a bank!
Yes! ” came a reply, “they care about their reputations…
Publicity is important,” someone else suggested: “People know about Glastonbury – haven’t we got a big enough profile to do something?

Absolutely

Last Bank Standing Oracle February 2016
The Last Bank Standing in the Glastonbury Oracle magazine, February 2016

The first Flashmob – Jerusalem – attracted a great deal of attention. It caused a stir at Lloyds HQ, when the 23 head directors each received a memory stick containing the video.
We’re reliably informed “They did not like it!
It caused a stir in Westminster too – resulting in a mention at Prime Minister’s Questions that our “World famous town will lose all three of its remaining banks within 12 weeks of each other! ”  The Prime Minister agreed that the “physical presence” of banks on the High Street was important…

More bank closures ahead as the Co-op plans to pull out of Street CSG 4th February 2016
More bank closures ahead – from the Central Somerset Gazette, 4th February 2016

Our petition has attracted over 5,000 signatures – and it was handed to County Councillor Terry Napper on 11th February.
It reads: “In view of the severe difficulties businesses and people, who don’t bank online, will face when all banking provision is withdrawn from a community; we call upon our County Council to actively engage with the Banks to ensure their adherence to the Access to Banking Protocol.”
This now means that Somerset County Council will have to debate the issue of the bank closures at their next meeting.

Petition handed to County Cllr Terry Napper
Last Bank Standing campaigner Gabriel Avalon hands over the 5,000 strong petition to County Councillor Terry Napper at Glastonbury Town Hall

You can still sign our Last Bank Standing petition to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP by clicking HERE.

At their January meeting, Glastonbury Town Council – prompted by Last Bank Standing – decided to support the campaign by adding the remaining banks to the District Council’s Assets of Community Value list – which provides “land or property of importance to a local community” additional protection from development under the Localism Act 2011.

Councillors vote to protect threatened bank buildings CSG 28th January 2016
from the Central Somerset Gazette, 28th January 2016
Flash mob will keep pressure on banks - Central Somerset Gazette, 18th February 2016
Flash mob will keep pressure on banks – Central Somerset Gazette, 18th February 2016

WANTED Black Horse 1What next? A Spaghetti Western (of course)…

Crazy Horse!

The call went out: “Flashmob 11.45 am, Saturday 20th February – outside St. John’s!

The nod was given – the Black Horse had been spotted.

Time to get the Deputy…

 

What can happen when a community gets organised?

From RSLM to PMQs…

In May 2015, a local Glastonbury resident told me of his concerns about the amount of traffic on the town’s High Street, and his thoughts on the pedestrianisation of the town centre – shortly after, he felt motivated to set up a Facebook group focused on the potential of pedestrianising Glastonbury High Street.

The Facebook group generated a lively debate involving the Mayor, Councillors, over 300 members, and some very strong feelings being posted for and against; it was clear that the subject of pedestrianisation was as contentious in 2015 as it had been 20 years before – when the issue prompted Glastonbury’s first town poll “in living memory”…

Motivated to search for a more positive approach to the wider issues highlighted in the pedestrianisation group posts, a new Facebook group ‘Revitalise Glastonbury!!!’ was set up. In addition, Town Councillors Emma George and Gabriel Avalon volunteered to listen to local businesses on the High Street; using a set of questions that I developed with them based on the RSLM method used by Community Organisers.

Emma and Gabriel listened to the businesses, shops, and traders to find out what was important to them; their concerns and their thoughts about the future of the town.  A network of people came together out of this process and formed the basis of a ‘Future of the Town Centre Working Group’; meeting regularly, and contributing to the Town Council’s Promoting Glastonbury forum.

Pedestrianisation of High Street 18th June 2015
The Future of the High Street Working Group, the Central Somerset Gazette, 18th June 2015.

In the autumn of 2015, it was announced that two of Glastonbury’s four High Street banks would be closing their branches and leaving the town before Christmas, and that the other two would also be closing in the spring of 2016; leaving the town stranded without a bank!  This prompted members of the Town Centre Working Group to action, and a petition to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Rt. Hon Sajid Javid MP – the “Last Bank Standing. Don’t let communities lose their only Bank” – was devised by Paul Manning, working with Gabriel Avalon and Kevin Redpath.

Residents and traders join forces in battle over banks CSG 24th December 2015
A review of the Last Bank Standing Public Meeting [16th December] from the Central Somerset Gazette, 24th December 2015.
A public meeting was arranged on 16th December 2015; it was extremely well attended, chaired by the Mayor of Glastonbury with both the current and ex-MP taking part.  Helping to facilitate this meeting, I took the minutes and, at the end, compiled a list of people who volunteered to form a steering group for the further development of the Last Bank Standing campaign.  One of the ideas that came out of this was to hold a Flash Mob protest and attract as much attention as possible.

Plot to get you to bank in libraries and post offices Daily Mail 23rd December 2015
The Daily Mail mentions Glastonbury’s situation in ‘Money Mail’, 23rd December 2015.

On Saturday, 9th January 2016 – at midday – the Flash Mob was held in the centre of Glastonbury, with over 500 people gathering to sing a specially rewritten version of ‘Jerusalem’!  Conducted by Charles Hazlewood, the crowd was joined by Glastonbury Festival’s Michael Eavis, James Heappey MP, and host of journalists including a film crew from the BBC.

The event was filmed for the campaign by Kevin Redpath and a local camera crew, all providing their services free of charge – the result posted on YouTube:

The protest generated a great deal of publicity – leading the BBC’s local evening news, and making local and national papers.

On 20th January 2016, the Glastonbury bank closures were mentioned during Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament, when David Cameron said he “would make sure Glastonbury MP James Heappey met Treasury ministers to discuss how his constituency could save three banks faced with the chop in the near future.”

The Last Bank Standing group is currently exploring the possibility of nominating the four closing banks’ buildings on the Assets of Community Value register as part of the Community Rights.

The campaign continues…

Protesters step up campaign to save town's last remaining banks CSG 7th January 2016
Central Somerset Gazette, 7th January 2016

DAILY MAIL:  Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis joins demonstration over bank closures [11th January 2016]

3006E7C400000578-3394097-image-m-18_1452525911964

Campaigners in show of strength CSG 14th January 2016
Central Somerset Gazette, 14th January 2016

BBC The crowd sung the hymn Jerusalem

Banks Letters CSG 21st January 2016
Last Bank Standing ‘letters to the editor’, Central Somerset Gazette, 21st January 2016
PM urged to act as bank insists it is leaving town CSG 28th January 2016
Glastonbury’s banks raised at Prime Minister’s Questions from the Central Somerset Gazette, 28th January 2016