Members fight Midshires terms

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The Independent Online
BIRMINGHAM MIDSHIRES is facing a backlash against its de-mutualisation plans from disgruntled borrowers and savers who are seeking a vote to overturn the deal.

Savers who joined the building society after January 1 1996 have gained enough signatures to requisition a special general meeting to discuss alternatives to the Midshires plan, which offers the majority of members just pounds 400 in preference shares. Many mortgage borrowers also believe they have been disadvantaged by the terms of the conversion.

Midshires has blocked an attempt by the members to table a special resolution at its own extraordinary general meeting on December 11, when the Halifax takeover bid will be put to a vote. Save Our Building Societies, the lobby group, now has 138 signatures from members who want to requisition a separate meeting, where alternatives to the Midshires proposals will be discussed.

Only 100 signatures are required for such a meeting.

Members of the society last week made unsolicited calls to the media to voice their frustration at the deal. Paul King, a music agent from Colchester who has been a member since the start of 1996, said:

"I think they are now treating the majority of their members disgracefully. You can't say that any saver who joined the society after a certain date is a carpetbagger."

Save Our Building Societies is now appealing for contributions to a pounds 5,000 deposit, required by Midshires as a condition for holding a separate general meeting. Kerry Pollard MP, a patron of the group, said: "This is not a level playing field, things are stacked against the ordinary members.