MERGERS and acquisitions are usually the preserve of Wall Street or the City.

But a credit union in Blackbird Leys is planning to merge with a bigger rival to help it continues to serve the estate. Blackbird Leys Credit Union is talking to Oxford Credit Union about a merger that would see them share costs.

The committee that runs the Blackbird Leys co-operative believes this will help it remain on the estate because of fears it will struggle to continue in its present form.

Treasurer Jim Hewitt, who lives in Monks Close, said: “It makes a lot more sense. Oxford union is expanding while we are here focused on Blackbird Leys. It is much more sensible for us to be seen as a branch of OCU. We will be able to pool our resources.

“Our intention is to stay in Blackbird Leys and focus all the time on the estate because we are a branch of a larger credit union, which will look after the more difficult administrative matters.”

Blackbird Leys, which has four part-time staff, was set up about 20 years ago so people on the estate could save and obtain loans without resorting to loan sharks.

Manager Saul Goode said: “The legal burden of running a credit union has gone up over the years and it isn’t really feasible for us to carry on as a small credit union as we are.”

Late last year Oxford was given permission by the Financial Services Authority, which regulates UK banks and financial services, to expand countywide.

Any merger would also have to be approved by the FSA. But it would also have to be approved in a vote of all Blackbird Leys members, to be held at a special meeting later this year.

Wolvercote resident Alan Fowler, who banks with Oxford, said: “Credit unions are a good idea because they are not faceless organisations you cannot communicate with.”


  • Credit unions are financial co-operatives owned by their members and which provide credit at a competitive rate.
  • The Blackbird Leys Credit Union has about 500 members and began in about 1994. It holds savings of £160,000.
  • It is based at the Blackbird Leys Community Centre.
  • Oxford Credit Union was set up in 2005 and has more than 1,000 members.