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All over bar the shouting

You could have easily mistaken Bradford & Bingley&#39s SGM as a gathering of

Saga holidaymakers who had just been told they were going to Scunthorpe

instead of Spain.

Less than 500 elderly members milled around a venue with a capacity of

13,000, looking overwhelmed and disappointed.

The PRs were out inRottweiler style trying to steer reporters away from

members and into the staid and empty press enclosure. But members were all

too ready to say how let down they felt after years of loyalty.

“You have sold us down the river” came the anguished cry of a member

challenging the way the board intended to distribute equal shares to all

qualifying members.

The board was accused of having £ signs in front of their eyes. “You

are only interested in your own payouts,” came the cry.

But the vote had already been decided long before the disgruntled members

had boarded their buses to the vast and empty arena.

Chairman Lindsay Mackinlay answered the questions in a polite and well

rehearsed manner. He swung calmly round in his Mastermind chair as if his

specialist subject was fending off disgruntled pensioners. The meeting was

a mere formality.

As the vote was announced, the fait accompli feeling of members was confirmed.

After the meeting, in a television interview, Save Our Building Societies

co-ordinator Bob Good-all extracted a pledge from Mackinlay that there

would be no job losses as a direct result of the conversion.

Mackinlay did not elaborate, on camera, about the impact of future

developments on jobs.

But it was easy to understand members&#39 fears of the board simply putting

on a show. As the members left, past Yorkshire Building Society&#39s Battle

Bus extolling the virtues of a mutual, a feeling of despondency hung in the


Only the members of Sobs standing near the foyer looked hopeful. We will

fight on, they cheered, already talking of their next campaign.


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