Five questions answered on the Co-op Bank’s plans to cut branches

How many stores is the Co-op Bank planning on closing?

Amid an ongoing struggle to bring the Co-op Bank back into profit it has announced it will close some of its stores by the end of next year. We answer five questions on the Co-op’s branch closure plan.

How many stores is the Co-op Bank planning on closing?

The banking group plans to reduce its branch network by 15 per cent by the end of next year, which means closing around 50 branches.

How will the branch closures affect jobs at the bank? 

In regards to this, Euan Sutherland, group chief executive, told BBC Radio 5 live: "We do need to take the overall costs down, unfortunately [that] will hit jobs, but we don't have the details today."

He added: "We have taken a major step forward towards achieving our plan to secure the future of the bank.”

Why is Co-op closing these branches?

The branch closures are part of a £1.5bn recapitalisation plan rescue deal to bring the bank back into profit.

The rescue deal will see shares of around 70 per cent of the bank handed over to creditors, leaving Co-op Group with 30 per cent.

The Co-operative Group will inject £462m into the bank to retain this 30 per cent equity.

However, investors have to vote in this plan in a vote that will take place before the end of the year. Three quarters of investors must support the plan for it to proceed.

The Co-op also plans to list the bank on the London Stock Exchange in 2014.

What else have decision makers at the Co-op Bank said?

Niall Booker, chief executive of the bank, is reported as saying by The Telegraph:

“You can see by what’s happened to other banks,” he said, naming the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, “that’s it going to take time.”

“One thing we must not forget is the core part of our operation is profitable on an ongoing basis; the drag comes from the run-off portfolio,” he continued.

Finally he added that:  “it’s going to take us four to five years to restructure this bank.”

What has bank regulators the Prudential Regulation Authority said about the Co-op Bank’s new recapitalisation plans?

"We welcome the announcement by the firm today setting out the final details of how it will raise the capital required," it said in a statement.

The banking group plans to reduce its branch network by 15 per cent by the end of next year. Photograph: Getty Images.

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

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A swimming pool and a bleeding toe put my medical competency in doubt

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Sometimes the search engine wins. 

The brutal heatwave affecting southern Europe this summer has become known among locals as “Lucifer”. Having just returned from Italy, I fully understand the nickname. An early excursion caused the beginnings of sunstroke, so we abandoned plans to explore the cultural heritage of the Amalfi region and strayed no further than five metres from the hotel pool for the rest of the week.

The children were delighted, particularly my 12-year-old stepdaughter, Gracie, who proceeded to spend hours at a time playing in the water. Towelling herself after one long session, she noticed something odd.

“What’s happened there?” she asked, holding her foot aloft in front of my face.

I inspected the proffered appendage: on the underside of her big toe was an oblong area of glistening red flesh that looked like a chunk of raw steak.

“Did you injure it?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t hurt at all.”

I shrugged and said she must have grazed it. She wasn’t convinced, pointing out that she would remember if she had done that. She has great faith in plasters, though, and once it was dressed she forgot all about it. I dismissed it, too, assuming it was one of those things.

By the end of the next day, the pulp on the underside of all of her toes looked the same. As the doctor in the family, I felt under some pressure to come up with an explanation. I made up something about burns from the hot paving slabs around the pool. Gracie didn’t say as much, but her look suggested a dawning scepticism over my claims to hold a medical degree.

The next day, Gracie and her new-found holiday playmate, Eve, abruptly terminated a marathon piggy-in-the-middle session in the pool with Eve’s dad. “Our feet are bleeding,” they announced, somewhat incredulously. Sure enough, bright-red blood was flowing, apparently painlessly, from the bottoms of their big toes.

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Often, what patients discover on the internet causes them undue alarm, and our role is to provide context and reassurance. But not infrequently, people come across information that outstrips our knowledge. On my return from our room with fresh supplies of plasters, my wife looked up from her sun lounger with an air of quiet amusement.

“It’s called ‘pool toe’,” she said, handing me her iPhone. The page she had tracked down described the girls’ situation exactly: friction burns, most commonly seen in children, caused by repetitive hopping about on the abrasive floors of swimming pools. Doctors practising in hot countries must see it all the time. I doubt it presents often to British GPs.

I remained puzzled about the lack of pain. The injuries looked bad, but neither Gracie nor Eve was particularly bothered. Here the internet drew a blank, but I suspect it has to do with the “pruning” of our skin that we’re all familiar with after a soak in the bath. This only occurs over the pulps of our fingers and toes. It was once thought to be caused by water diffusing into skin cells, making them swell, but the truth is far more fascinating.

The wrinkling is an active process, triggered by immersion, in which the blood supply to the pulp regions is switched off, causing the skin there to shrink and pucker. This creates the biological equivalent of tyre treads on our fingers and toes and markedly improves our grip – of great evolutionary advantage when grasping slippery fish in a river, or if trying to maintain balance on slick wet rocks.

The flip side of this is much greater friction, leading to abrasion of the skin through repeated micro-trauma. And the lack of blood flow causes nerves to shut down, depriving us of the pain that would otherwise alert us to the ongoing tissue damage. An adaptation that helped our ancestors hunt in rivers proves considerably less use on a modern summer holiday.

I may not have seen much of the local heritage, but the trip to Italy taught me something new all the same. 

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear