KENDAL Mayor Coun Sylvia Emmott became the 1,000th person to sign up to support the South Lakes Credit Union.

Her pledge is seen by those behind the group’s formation as a key step in helping it become a reality.

Coun Emmott said it would help those who needed financial help, with loans at much lower interest rates than payday lenders or loan sharks.

A credit union for the people of South Lakeland has been the ambition for a dedicated team of volunteers for the last four years.

Its aim is to enable people to save and borrow with a local organisation that charges fair rates of interest to borrowers.

All Credit Unions are owned by their members, not external shareholders. Surpluses are shared between local members as a dividend or added to members’ savings each year.

“Establishing a credit union goes back to the very roots of Kendal’s history, the Kendal Bank and Provincial being two examples of how thrift and self-reliance were supported in the past,” said Coun Emmott. “I have no hesitation in giving the credit union my full support.”

Treasurer David Evans said “We are on the verge of finalising our financial plans with our key supporting organisations, and Kendal Town Council has been at the forefront of this, helping us with funds to publicise the credit union, and now it has earmarked £3,000 a year to help ensure it becomes a reality.

“Cumbria County Council, South Lakeland District Council and South Lakes Housing are also committed to help and once it is all in place we will be submitting our application to the government to set it all up.

“The other key advantage of a local Credit union will be that almost all the money we raise will be spent in by South Lakeland people in South Lakeland, thereby supporting the local economy and contributing to the wellbeing of everyone.”