THE "new-style" Congress 2003 has been declared a big success by Co-operatives UK Chief Executive Pauline Green.
While the results of a delegates' survey are still being evaluated, Dame Pauline (right) says in a briefing paper being circulated to Co-ops UK members that the organisation has already received many verbal plaudits, but warns that because of the big turn-out of co-operators it may be necessary to seek a bigger venue for future events.
It has already been decided to stage Congress 2004 at the Co-op complex in Manchester, but future venues will be arranged at a later date.
Said Dame Pauline: "What was striking this year was that New Century Hall and the workshop rooms in particular were clearly too small. The growth of Co-operatives UK; the partnership with the Education Forum and the clustering of the wider Movement events around Congress has led to a greater diversity of delegates and a wider age span.
"We often spoke of our desire to make Congress 2003 different and I think we achieved that. The more appropriate balance between plenary presentations and participative workshops seems to have met a need and to have been very useful as well."
Dame Pauline says the workshops were all very well attended and lively and enabled delegates and visitors the opportunity to participate and engage with opinion formers at an early stage in the evolution of their work.
However the Co-ops UK chief admits there were some "rough edges" to the new-style less formal Congress, as had been anticipated.
She said: " We already have our list. It will be our task to ensure that they have been smoothed out by next year.
"We look forward to hearing delegates' opinions and their ideas for improvement including potential alternative venues for the future."