Portman chief to face leadership challenge

Portman chief executive Robert Sharpe looks set to face a leadership challenge.

Carpetbagger Tim Tanner last week started gathering signatures for a campaign to oust Sharpe. Tanner, leader of the Mutual Members&#39 Campaign, says he aims “to restore democracy and membership participation” at UK building societies, questioning Sharpe&#39s handling of Portman&#39s branch closure programme last year.

Tanner says he started a campaign to gather signatures for Sharpe&#39s dismissal in Pewsey, Wiltshire, where a Portman branch was closed recently. He adds that he hopes to gather enough support to forward resolutions calling for Sharpe&#39s expulsion by Christmas.

The MMC also plans to field six member-nominated director candidates in opposition to the current Portman board at the next AGM in April 2004. The most prominent candidate is John Sharp, prospective Conservative candidate for Hull West – despite the fact he came second in the last general election and third in his bid for a seat on Hull City Council.

In 2002 the MMC put forward two resolutions calling for the removal of Sharpe but he stood for election a year early, thereby rendering the resolutions invalid.

A spokesperson for Portman says: “We are a democratic organisation and any resolutions put to the board have to meet certain legal terms.

“Mr Tanner should not try to seek support by distorting facts, which carpetbaggers tend to do when attacking building societies.”