A REVISED rule book has been issued for consultation by the Co-operative Press, publisher of the News.
The rule book has been designed to make the society more democratically accountable and will allow individual co-operators to become members for the first time.
The new rules are regarded by the Board of Co-operative Press as a crucial stage in the thorough revitalisation of the News that has been under way since the publication of the recommendations of the Co-operative Press Review Group a year ago.
The transfer of the Press to a new ownership model was one of the Review Group's main recommendations. Other steps already taken during the past 12 months include the redesign of the paper, the launch of a website and the introduction of an editorial code of conduct.
Chair of the Press Board, Jeanette Timmins, commented: "The society's rules were considered carefully by the Board in consultation with our two largest shareholders and the outcome is a new constitution that will make the Press significantly more democratically accountable.
"Through an accident of history as retail co-ops have merged, the present membership is dominated by two large shareholders who now control all the seats on the Board.
"If the revised rules are approved, which will be a crucial step forward, the new Board will become more representative of the whole Movement by restricting the Board representation of our two largest shareholders and guaranteeing that Board seats are available for organisations holding fewer shares.
"In addition, and for the first time, individual co-operators will be able to become shareholders of Co-operative Press and one place on the Board will be specifically reserved for a representative of this new class of members."
A copy of the revised rules is being circulated to all the existing shareholding members of the Press, who include most retail societies and a number of trade unions.
Co-operatives and individuals have been asked to feed back comments on the new constitution to the Secretary of the Press by the end of March, after which a final draft will be circulated for approval at a special meeting of members scheduled for the Congress weekend in May.
To download the draft rules of Co-operative Press click here. To view the commentry on these rules click here.
Alternatively hard copies can be requested from Geraldine Birtwistle at the News head office tel 0161 214 0870, e-mail: [email protected].