THE governor of the Bank of England met members of the public in Southampton at the first of a series of “citizens’ panels”.

The event at the Central Hall gave a panel of 20 residents the chance to share their views about the economy with Mark Carney and other bank officials.

It was the first time that the Citizens’ Panel for Central Southern England – made up of more than 20 residents from across the region – had met.

The meetings give the bank senior policy makers the chance to hear views from across the UK, complementing the engagement exercises the bank already carries out with businesses and other organisations.

Participants asked questions on a range of issues from the bank’s preparations for Brexit to the prospects for digital currencies and what the bank is doing on climate change.

Panel members shared concerns including the impact of welfare changes on vulnerable people, a shortage of affordable housing and the difficulties of small businesses in accessing finance from banks.

Mr Carney said: “Alongside the intelligence that we gather through our agency network from businesses and the third sector, these conversations with members of the public are incredibly helpful to us as we seek to understand how the UK economy is performing and how that affects people’s everyday priorities.

“I greatly enjoyed the evening and learnt a lot from it. I would like to thank all those who attended for giving their time and sharing their experiences.”

Andrew Holder, the bank’s agent for the central southern region, stressed that this was not a one-off initiative and encouraged other locals to get involved.

“We plan to hold these meetings twice a year. And we want people to stay involved through an online Citizens’ Panel community that will be created to run alongside the meetings,” he said.

“We are all part of the economy. It affects us all and we all have views about it.

“We aim ultimately to make the bank’s policy decisions better informed by listening to a wider range of voices.”

Citizens’ Panel member Owen Thomas, of Winchester, said: “The event was really worthwhile. The Bank of England staff were genuinely interested in hearing about our experiences and the issues we are all facing.

“Mark Carney treated everyone with respect and answered all our questions in an open and straightforward way.

“It’s easy to become jaded and disillusioned by faceless public officials. However, the event completely dispelled any such feeling about the Bank of England.

“The staff were warm, genuine and truly interested in our experiences and the impact on our lives of economic policy.”

The meeting was chaired by Jonathan Cheshire, chairman of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation.

Mr Carney, 54, is due to remain Bank of England governor until next January.