A NEW German-style bank for Hampshire is winning support from civic chiefs.

Winchester City Council has expressed interest in the bank which aims to support local people and business.

The Hampshire Community Bank would be a not-for-profit operation providing a full range of services to individuals, businesses and social enterprises living, working or operating in the county.

The Cabinet has welcomed the idea.

Stephen Godfrey, portfolio holder for finance, said: “This support is very much in line with our own priorities for ensuring a thriving local economy in Winchester. It is the right course of action to take.

“We are expressing interest in setting money aside,” said Cllr Godfrey.

The council is considering financial support of £250,000 to become a founding member of the bank along with other local authorities.

The bank needs £14 million to start up, the Cabinet heard.

Rob Humby, council leader, said: “Cabinet is backing this initiative, subject to full Council approval, because the Hampshire Community Bank can be a major newelement of our support to the Winchester economy, helping local people and businesses.

“Experts believe there is demand in the market for a bank that serves the needs of the local community and works with businesses, councils and charities to deliver sustainable economic growth and fulfil social objectives.

“Similar not-forprofit operations have worked successfully in Germany for 200 years and account for three-quarters of all retail bank deposits and lending to small and medium- sized enterprises there.”

Created by Local First, a community interest group, the bank will be a locally-owned and run bank for the benefit of local people.

Eastleigh Borough Council has already said it would invest in the business.

Depending on the level of customer deposits, the bank hopes to lend at least £100m in its first year.

The group intends to raise £7m and hopes the Government will match it to create a total of £14m.

Deposits up to £85,000 will be protected under the government protection scheme.

The bank itself must undergo regulatory approval and Local First hopes it will be up and running in two years’ time.