Ms Froggatt admitted that it was a challenge for the Group to stay in touch with its members as the society grew in size and said the society needed to do more to ensure members knew who their representatives are. She said the Group would be reviewing its membership strategy and hoped to complete the process by the autumn of this year.
“The membership proposition is fundamental to us and the Review Group wants to increase membership awareness and increase democratic engagement through employeee membership and campaigns such as Fairtrade,” she said.
“However the days when hundreds of members will turn up for meetings are gone. We have got to look at electronic communications and although only a few people participated in our initial trial webcasts, the numbers are growing and lots of people viewed it afterwards.”
Ms Frogatt added that 1.2 million Group members were balloted as part of the recent area committee election process across the UK and, following a question by delegate Jim King, acknowledged the number would have been higher if there had been elections in every constituency. In addition, some members who were not regular Co-op shoppers had not been balloted, she explained.
Mr King, a former Mayor of Salford and ex-Parliamentary candidate, expressed disappointment that the majority of the Group’s three million members had not been part of the election process and said the Group should not ignore traditional balloting methods as not all members had internet access.
Ms Froggatt welcomed the Group’s TV advertisement featuring Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ song which she said would help attract new members as it helped put the Movement’s values and principles into context and explained the co-operative difference and the ‘virtuous circle’ highlighted in the 2001 Co-operative Commission report.