Page last updated at 18:25 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 19:25 UK

Penny drops for people of Halifax

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Halifax staff anxious about their jobs

The Pennine former mill town which gave its name to the Halifax was in a sombre mood as details of the bank's financial woes emerged.

For more than 150 years the Halifax had been based in the heart of the town, employing more than 6,000 people at its central headquarters - the gawky, hulking, angular structure sits awkwardly among the surrounding stylish Victorian buildings.

The headquarters looms over the town centre and its operations had dominated the local economy. Many people in the area either work there, have worked there or have relatives who earn their living from the firm.

As the fallout from the rushed merger with Lloyds TSB emerged, there were few in the town who dared hazard a guess at what the future held for employees' once apparently safe careers.

A short distance from the Halifax's headquarters stands the grand, pillared front of the Lloyds TSB office with shoppers piling along Commercial Street between the two confused about what was happening and worried about the future of their town.

I've got a bad feeling about this and what it will mean for the town
Halifax resident John Wallace

John Wright, 58, who lives in Halifax, said: "It's got to mean loads of job losses, hasn't it?

"That's the whole point of a deal like this. Lloyds are in the driving seat and large chunks of it will move to London.

"No one will worry about us up here."

Sarah French, from nearby Sowerby Bridge, said: "Everyone knows the Halifax dominates this town.

"Years ago everyone had their mortgage with them - a lot because they used to work there and got good rates.

"So there's still a lot of people with a lot of connections, not to mention the poor ones who still work there."

Across the road from the pillared front of the Lloyds TSB branch stands the Old Cock Inn where a group of men met in 1852 and set up an investment and loan organisation which soon became the Halifax Permanent Benefit Building Society.

'Financial turmoil'

Standing outside the pub John Wallace, 67, said: "I suppose you've got to think it could have been worse if the whole thing went under.

"But, on the other hand, I've got a bad feeling about this and what it will mean for the town."

Calderdale council's Deputy Leader, Councillor Stephen Baines, said: "Calderdale council's main concern is for the staff who work for HBOS and for those people who have savings and investments with the organisation.

"The council is hopeful that the outcome of any negotiations will protect the interests of these people."

Meanwhile the MEP for Yorkshire and Humber, Richard Corbett, called on the government to apply for money from the European Union (EU) to support Halifax workers.

The Labour MEP said: "At this time of global financial turmoil, we have to do all we can to protect the hundreds of HBOS workers across Yorkshire and protect against job losses."

The grant, known as the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGAF), was created by the European Parliament to provide money for people in cases where at least 1000 workers in a company are made redundant.

Mr Corbett added: "This fund is designed specifically for cases such as this, when a company suffering from the international financial is forced to shed jobs."




SEE ALSO
Thousands face axe in HBOS merger
18 Sep 08 |  Business

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