New Co-op boss delighted with ‘strength of support’ since taking over in aftermath of Paul Flowers scandal

Ursula Lidbetter. Photo: Tim Wilson
Ursula Lidbetter. Photo: Tim Wilson

The former head of the Co-op in Lincolnshire hailed the ‘strength of support’ she’s had since being made the group’s national head in the wake of the scandal surrounding its ex bank boss.

Paul Flowers has today been arrested as part of a police investigation into the possible supply of drugs. He has attracted national headlines after apologising when confronted with reports he bought illegal drugs days after being grilled by MPs for his poor performance at the helm of Co-op bank.

Co-op chairman Len Wardle stepped down over his decision to employ Flowers – who has been suspended as a Methodist minister and member of the Labour party – leaving Lincolnshire’s Ursula Lidbetter thrust into the national spotlight.

Speaking at the South Holland Enterprise Day and Business Awards at Springfields on Wednesday, she said: “The Co-op movement is a fantastic place to be and our members are wonderful and supportive.

“In Lincolnshire, we’re lucky to have a wonderful Co-op and if I can help other Co-ops by giving some of my time (as non-executive chairman), then I will do.

“I’ve taken the (Co-op Group) chairman’s role (from Tuesday) after being deputy chairman and what has heartened me is the strength of support from the public, Co-op members and staff.

“Everybody is willing the Co-op group to succeed and our strength lies in our members.”