Union to help take on pay day lenders

Helping hand: 5,000th member Sarah Beacham with Anthony Brookes at the opening of the Credit Union shop on Birley Street on Saturday Pics: DAN MARTINO
Helping hand: 5,000th member Sarah Beacham with Anthony Brookes at the opening of the Credit Union shop on Birley Street on Saturday Pics: DAN MARTINO
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Pay day lenders and loan sharks beware – the latest weapon to take on the moneylenders has arrived on Blackpool’s high street.

Dozens of people turned out to welcome the arrival of the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Credit Union as it set up shop in the heart of the town’s main financial district in Birley Street.

The union is a financial co-operative owned by members, which offers safe, responsible savings and affordable credit.

And among those asked to open the new branch was nurse Sarah Beacham – the union’s 5,000th member.

The 41-year-old from St Annes said: “My involvement started after my husband Conrad joined. He had put some money aside as my 40th birthday arrived and surprised me with a trip to Turkey.

“I decided to apply – it was quick and easy. It’s a local, non-for-profit organisation which helps people get back on their feet again.”

Blackpool Council announced plans to buy the former travel agents – near to banks such as Natwest, Barclays and HSBC – in December, so the union could move from its current offices within Coastal Housing, also on Birley Street, to a purpose-built facility.

Mike Barry, Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Credit Union chief executive, said the building had been revamped following grants totalling more than £100,000 from the council and Barclays community scheme.

He added: “We have always worked from a back office so it is great to have a new office like this. It is about saving responsibly and so that it is affordable. We want to give access to everyone. In the past people have had to ring and email us. Now they can see us in a nice and safe environment.

“In the five years we have existed, we have built savings of £3m, we have given loans of £3m and saved people interest in the region of £3.5m – as well as having more than 5,000 members.”

Credit union president Philip Welsh added: “We looked at a number of different locations and places out of town, but being here on the high street is where we want to be.

“We want to be where the financial base is, we want to be where the footfall is.”