Chelsea under fire as members support motion to review status

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Chelsea Building Society found itself under renewed attack yesterday after an overwhelming vote by members to ask the board to consider ditching its mutual status in favour of becoming a listed company.

The country's eighth largest building society, already subject to a merger offer from Totalise, a year-old internet provider of cars and flowers, said that it would continue to oppose any change.

Totalise's chief executive, Peter Gregory, said yesterday: "This situation [of the vote] changes our situation considerably. We now need to decide whether to request formally that Chelsea reconsider our proposal to merge."

Chelsea has rejected the Totalise approach, which was made earlier this month, as absurd. The building society, which has been dogged by carpetbaggers who want to release windfalls of up to £1,000 for members, said: "We have considered our position over the last three months and the board remains absolutely convinced that mutuality is the best way for the society to proceed."

Members voted at the agm on whether the board should consider conversion after Richard Yendall, the internet carpetbagger co-ordinator, tabled the resolution.

Both sides backed a "yes" vote. The carpetbaggers said it promoted their cause. Chelsea said the vote did not conflict with its policy to consider the conversion option every year. A total of 93 per cent backed the motion.

The Chelsea board could be forced to put a conversion proposal to all members if 500 table a special resolution.

The Chelsea vote mirrored the result at Skipton Building Society's agm on Wednesday, where over 90 per cent of members voted in favour of the same resolution.