Fire Watching

(Report of General Manager to the Bank Committee: January 20th 1941)

Although the terms of the compulsory Order in this matter are not yet known, steps have been taken all over the City to set up groups of watchers covering sections of properties, and the Bank is involved in respect of Branch Banks. The local Managers have entered into the co-operative arrangements with my approval, subject to any variation which may be necessary to comply with the terms of the Order or to meet the requirements of the Committee. Every group appears to have made its arrangements after a meeting of those interested, and without regard to arrangements in any other district.

This matter is complicated so far as the Bank is concerned by reason of Officers discharging Civil Defence duties near their homes and Fire Watching by rota at Head Office. To carry out the new Fire Watching requirements it will probably be necessary to adjust the present arrangements in respect of Civil Defence duties and Head Office Fire Watching. Some Officers cannot give any more service than they are now doing, but others can undoubtedly do more. I have called for up-to-date information as to the Civil Defence services now being rendered by all the Staff, and when the actual position is known, it will be for the ARP Controller and myself to make any adjustments which may be necessary.

The  Committee can, however, give certain directions at this stage and I submit the following suggestions:

(1) Fire Watching to take precedence over other forms of Civil Defence service, and all male Officers of the Bank should be required to undertake Fire Watching in respect of Head Office premises forming part of a group.

(2) Door keys of Branches held by the Managers to be placed in a sealed envelope and handed over each night to the official Fire Watching Officer or Officers, and recovered the following morning. A satisfactory explanation should be forthcoming if the seal of the envelope has been broken.

(3) Such equipment, where necessary, for the reasonable comfort of Officers during the night to be provided for each Branch.

(4) Tenants of Bank flats to be provided with such Fire Fighting equipment as may be necessary.

(5) The Bank to pay its quota to the expense of providing any other equipment required by the group, such as ladders, etc.


Fire Watchers, Fire Fighters etc

(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: January 20th 1941)

Your Sub-Committee are informed that, following the broadcast by the Minister of Home Security, steps are being taken all over the City to organise groups of Fire Watchers etc and a direction is required as to the arrangements to be made in respect of Branch Bank premises.

The general idea seems to be to form small groups covering convenient sets of properties and arrange a rota of night watchers amongst those concerned.

Head Office is at present covered by a rota of all male members of staff.

The majority of Branches are provided with flats over the Banking premises and the risk of fires from incendiary bombs is greater in respect of the flat than the Bank premises beneath. The tenants of the flats will come in the group scheme.

The Bank premises are divorced from the flat and the door keys are held by the managers, who reside some distance away and most of them discharge ARP duties in the neighbourhood of their residences in addition to taking their turn in the rota for Head Office, Fire Watching etc.

Your Sub-Committee consider that tenants of flats over Branch Banks should co-operate in this matter, and that any necessary equipment to put out fires should be supplied by the Bank.

Where there is no flat or where the flats are vacant, the responsibility will fall entirely on the Bank.

There are several difficulties in working out an effective scheme, and your Sub-Committee have asked the General Manager to confer with Branch Managers and put forward recommendations to the Committee, if possible at your meeting on Monday next.


Fire Watching

(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: March 17th 1941)

Your Sub-Committee report that arrangements have been made for Group Fire Watching covering 33 branches of the Bank.

With regard to the remaining branches not covered by these arrangements, the Town Clerk has been informed that it has not been possible to make the necessary arrangements.

The whole of the male staff have volunteered for fire watching duties, together with 85 members of the female staff. This has enabled arrangements to be made at Head Office and certain branches. The majority of the staff are already carrying out Civil Defence duties, and in those cases it is hoped to arrange that the call on their services shall only be once a month.


National Service Acts - Women Employees

(Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee: July 20th 1942)

With reference to the circular letter from the Town Clerk dated the 18th June herein directing employing Committees to supply the Local man-Power Board with lists of women employees, it has been pointed out that Bank employees are classified as Bank Officers for the purposes of the National Service Acts and the Registration of Employment Order. Whatever decision is reached by the Kennet Committee for the Banking Industry as a whole will be applied by HM Treasury to Officers of the Municipal Bank, with such modifications as the Treasury may determine. The Man-Power Board are fully aware of the position.


Manpower in Banking

(Report of Chairman to Bank Committee: January 18th 1943)

The Report of the Committee on Manpower in Banking and Allied Businesses (under the chairmanship of Lord Kennet) was presented to Parliament in October last, and the recommendations in the Report have had the consideration of the General Manager, who presented a report to me thereon.

The Chairman of the Sub-Committee (Councillors Griffith and Gurden) and the Ex-Chairmen (Aldermen Barrow and Gelling and Councillor Cooper) were consulted on the General Manager's report. These members (except Alderman Barrow, who was otherwise engaged) met me on 22nd December when the report was considered and the views received of the Town Clerk who has been consulted on certain points raised. As a result, I have to make certain recommendations which are set out below.

1 That permission be given to any female officers on the staff under 31 years of age to enrol in HM Forces if they so desire; but such permission should not be given to females over that age unless the National circumstances render it necessary to vary this decision.

2 It is not considered desirable at present to close any Branch of the Bank, and where it is necessary to release members of the staff for HM Forces or Industry, such releases should be made possible by elimination of work and re-organisation. Steps have already been taken to close an hour earlier at certain Branches and for the staff to help at the busier Branches.

3 As regards elimination of work, it is considered desirable to give the following directions:

    (a) That, for the duration of the war, the practice of allowing depositors to make deposits at any branch, instead of their usual Branch, should be suspended, because of the extra work entailed in the issue of credit advices;

    (b) That the crediting of accounts by monthly salary schedules and cheques sent by employers should be limited to cases where the credit is 25 per month or over, and that employers should be requested to make the payment direct in cases below  this figure; and that in the few cases where employers are sending in weekly wages schedules for amounts to be credited to accounts of depositors, the employers should be requested to make such payments direct to the employees;

   (c) That the practice of issuing new pass books when a depositor transfers from one branch to another should be abolished in the interests of paper economy, and the original pass book should be used at the new branch, with appropriate alterations in title of branch and account number;

    (d) That for the first fortnight in April depositors who are subject to the salary schedule system, which involves entries made in the ledger account being subsequently made on production of the pass book, should be required to leave their books to be dealt with as opportunity offers, so as not to delay others who only desire interest added to their pass books;

   (e) That the issue of cheques in respect of ordinary withdrawals should be limited to sums of 100 or over; and that in respect of such ordinary transactions the cheque should be drawn in favour of the depositor, and not to third parties;

    (f) That all Borrowers concerned should be asked to pay their ground rents direct, instead of the Bank paying the same and debiting the account.

4 Previous to the Kennet Committee being constituted, steps had been taken to curtail the work in the Bank considerably, and many returns and statistical records had been abolished for the duration of the war. There is little more than can be done in this direction, with safety: but, with a view to meeting the position in respect of further releases of staff, which may be forced upon the Bank, the General Manager was directed to make the experiment of a travelling posting staff who could move from one branch to another, and thereby reduce the number of staff at the larger branches; and to make any other rearrangements of the staff which would be likely to give a similar result. The General Manager will report to the next meeting of the Bank Committee the result of these experiments.


Travelling Posting Staffs

(General Manager's Report: April 16th 1943)

The experiment in connection with travelling posting has not given the results anticipated. This is not due to the principle being unsound, but because of difficulties in finding personnel able to do the work. It is quite probable we may have to revert to single branch posting, but for the time being I desire the experiment to continue.


Remuneration of Temporary Women Clerks

(General Manager's Report: July 1944)

Applications have been made for an increase in remuneration by those who have completed twelve months' service. They put forward the ground that having served twelve months, they are more valuable than inexperienced persons. The rate of remuneration paid to temporary women clerks is 3.10.0d per week, inclusive of bonus, but less the usual statutory deductions.

It is extremely difficult to obtain any clerks, and I do not wish to lose the services of those now with the Bank if it can be avoided. Although the Ministry of Labour have done and will do, all they can to help in this matter, they must give first preference to applications under the Essential Works Order. The result is that we can only get women over Registration age, or those under that age who have children to maintain or are rejected for other types of employment. Many of the women nearing 60 years of age have found so much standing at the counter too big a strain, and have resigned for that reason, and those with children have experienced difficulties in finding someone to look after the children, and have had to give up the work. Since April 1943 no less than 48 women have resigned, and of this number only 8 have left because they were unsuitable for the work.

The Chairman and I have conferred with Alderman Sir Ernest Canning (Chairman of the Salaries, Wages and Labour Committee) on this matter, and as a result sanction has been given to an increase of 2/6d per week being made after twelve months' satisfactory service, the increase to take effect at the 1st April or 1st October following the completion of twelve months' service. I would express my thanks to the Chairman and Sir Ernest Canning for their sympathetic consideration of the matter, and ask the approval of the Committee to the increase mentioned above.


Disposal of ARP and Fire equipment

(General Manager's Report: July 1945)

The total expenditure at Head Office and Branches in respect of Air Raid Precautions and Fire prevention and service, amounts to 2,689. 19. 3d, divided as follows:

1          Equipment to be retained                               547    4    10

2          Equipment surplus to Bank needs                   1,846   1    7

3          Equipment obsolete, lost or used

               making up window screens, etc                    209    7    4

4          Equipment which may be used

               (Mr Howitt to decide)                                     87    5    6

                                                                           2,689    19    3

At the meeting of the Council on the 3rd July 1945, Committees were requested to give to the Citizens Society for distribution to necessitous persons, the beds, bedding, etc provided under the Good Employer Code for the use of members of the staff who slept in the Departments for various duties during the War. Such articles (Included in No 2 above) cost 119. 0. 2d. Applications have been made by members of the staff for some of the articles, but in view of the request made by the Council, the Committee may desire to comply therewith.

As regards other items for disposal, the Committee may desire to give the staff the opportunity of purchasing any article at the price paid by the Bank, and agree to the remainder being sold by Mr Frank Wilde at the best price obtainable.

Second World War - Emergency Arrangements
BMB during the War