A FORMER Green councillor hoping to join a building society’s board has pledged not to become a “fat cat”.

Alan Debenham, of Taunton, needs 250 Nationwide members to back his candidature to take part in the July election.

Mr Debenham, secretary of the Building Societies Members Association and one-time Taun-ton Deane councillor, stood unsuccessfully in six previous polls from 1999 to 2004.

He wants to radically reform the Nationwide’s “private bank-like behaviour”, and make it “much more the membership owned and democratically run mutual society defined in its constitution”.

“I want to curb the exorbitant remuneration packages of directors, including excessive bonuses and pension pots, to make the annual general meeting’s voting methods and procedures totally democratic, and to ensure better service and benefits for members all round, especially for savers,” said Mr Debenham.

“There have been no contested annual elections since I last stood in 2004, yet the amount of hostility shown by the membership against the board’s fat cat sala-ries, bonuses and golden hand-shakes, and the low savers’ interest rates, has continued at high levels.

“If I get elected I’ll see that my exorbitant annual fees of £60,000 for attending monthly meetings at Swindon HQ are immediately cut or donated.”

A spokeswoman for Nation-wide, the UK’s third biggest mortgage lender, said its board members must operate in the best interests of the members who own it.

She said: “We focus on optimising profits for the benefit of our members, investing our profits back into the business to provide market-leading products and customer service, as well as rewarding customer loyalty.

“This is why we’re number one for customer satisfaction on the high street, and despite our size and scale we account for only 2.2% of all industry complaints.”

She said the Nationwide has several leading products, and unlike many banks it did not need state support during the financial crisis.

She said executive remuneration is linked to performance, with payments “substantially below the market median”.

Interest rates in the financial market have declined in recent years, but the Nationwide offers a leading 5% on balances up to £2,500 on a current account.

See www.building-societies-members.org.uk for more.