A BOURNEMOUTH councillor is appealing to Portman Building Society members to vote no to a planned merger with Nationwide.

Cllr Ron Whittaker, who has a savings account at Portman, appealed to other Portman members not to be "taken in by handouts".

On Saturday the Daily Echo reported how around 250 jobs are set to be lost in Bournemouth if Nationwide's planned takeover of Portman Building Society goes ahead.

Ten Portman and Nationwide branches in Dorset and the New Forest will also close if the merger takes place.

Under the planned merger, qualifying Portman members would receive windfalls of up to £1,000.

The average windfall for these savers is expected to be £445 (minimum £200, maximum £1,000).

Each qualifying mortgage borrower would receive a flat rate windfall of £200.

Cllr Whittaker told the Echo: "Let's not this time be taken in by handouts. Let's vote no and retain what was promised in 1998 by the chief executive at that time of substantial investment into Bournemouth.

"Do they really take us all for fools?

"Like so many savers as myself, it sounds so good that savers and mortgage borrowers will receive a so-called windfall of a few hundred pounds.

"But I really do hope that the majority of Portman customers will vote a clear no in the voting forms to be held in the spring. We are talking of a number of job losses and the possible local economic effect to the town centre."

A spokesman for Portman said members had all been mailed a merger booklet and it was up to them to weigh up the pros and cons of the proposals.

He said: "Portman is a democracy and it is ultimately for the members to decide whether it represents fair value.

"The handouts are about compensating Portman members for the transfer to Nationwide."