A credit union is taking the fight to beat loan sharks in Bramley and West Leeds to the next level by moving to new premises.
From next Tuesday the West Leeds and Bramley Credit Union will move from its existing base in the Community Shop in Bramley District Centre.
Its new home will be the former Leeds City Council housing office at the junction of Town Street and Waterloo Lane. The office has been empty for a number of months and the credit union is taking on a short-term lease while the council decides the long-term fate of the building.
The credit union, essentially a savings club and community bank for local residents, is on the front line of the fight against loan sharks, high-interest rate payday loan companies and doorstep lenders in Bramley and across West Leeds.
Loan sharks often target vulnerable people and families, leaving their clients with crippling debts.
Board member John Battle, the former MP for Leeds West, said debt was still a major issue in the area and said the move would raise the profile of the credit union and hopefully lead to an expansion of its services. He said:
“Our aim is to encourage people to use the credit union to save and take out low-rate loans, rather than turn to loan sharks which are still a massive problem in the area. Illegal lenders offer a great danger to people.”
The West Leeds and Bramley Credit Union is run purely by volunteers and will be open at its new base on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-12pm.
Mr Battle says the group aims to expand its opening hours in the coming weeks and ultimately hopes to increase its work into other parts of West Leeds and Pudsey. He said:
“This is an opportunity for us to develop an integrated financial support centre offering a greater range of support services to help people better manage their finances. Let’s now really build up a local bank that serves the needs of its community, rather than its shareholders.”
Mr Battle thanked Leeds City Council for its support in making the move a reality.
The council housing office closed to the public last year, with services moving to the new Bramley Community Hub at the library in Hough Lane. Some staff moved to nearby Bramley Community Centre earlier this year, which was a council-run building until Bramley Elderly Action took over its running.