CO-OPERATIVES UK chairman Ben Reid has saluted the crucial contribution of his predecessor, Bob Burlton, in driving forward the changes recommended by the 2001 Co-operative Commission.
Mr Burlton resigned his Co-ops UK post in December after being named Chair Designate of the Co-operative Group and Mr Reid says that the Oxford, Swindon & Gloucester Society Chief Executive's commitment and drive has had a positive effect on the entire Movement.
Writing in Co-operatives' UK annual report to be circulated at Congress 2004 at Old Trafford football stadium, Mr Reid, Chief Executive of West Midlands Society, says that the period of Mr Burlton's tenure as chair of Co-operatives UK from 1998 to 2003 were arguably the most dynamic in the last 50 years.
Says Mr Reid: "Bob's period as chair saw the total restructuring of the organisation; its opening up to a new and diverse membership; the consequent complex process of designing a new constitution; the merger of two of the oldest federals in the Movement (the Co-op Union and the worker co-op federation ICOM) and the birth of a new organisation from that merger with a new identity and strategy.
"In line with the clear message he gave in his speech as Congress President in 1998, Bob engaged Co-operatives UK anew in the development of performance analysis and was appointed a member of the Co-operative Commission in 2000 – the recommendations of which continue to drive key changes in the Movement.
"It is an honour to follow him as chair of Co-operatives UK."
The annual report reveals that by the end of last year, 390 co-operative enterprises, development bodies, federations and associate members were on Co-ops UK's membership database – an increase of 30 from the start of 2003.
However although total membership grew by over eight per cent, 36 co-operative enterprises did not renew their membership and regaining the support of lapsed members – as well as retaining existing members – is seen as a priority for this year.