THE thorny issue of Foundation Hospitals is back on the agenda at this year's Co-op Party conference in Bradford over the weekend September 9th to 11th.
A motion submitted by the Co-operative Group (CG) South Western Party argues that democracy within the current governance of these hospitals is flawed and that non-executive directors continue to be appointed by the executive.
The motion says the Party's National Executive Committee should work to rectify the situation.
"It is important that we do not continue with a situation which differs little from the previous appointments system in NHS Trusts," reads the motion, "and insist that the Foundation Trusts move swiftly to a system where non-executive directors are trained and derived from the ranks of the elected governors".
With the national shortage of dentists, the CG North West and North Wales Party suggests that the Movement's mutual think-tank, Mutuo, should examine the potential for co-operative solutions to address the current crisis.
Another issue that is set to dominate the conference is housing. The Southern Party calls on all Co-op MPs to take a more pro-active role in promoting co-operative organisations and democracy.
In particular, it wants MPs to concentrate on the transfer of housing from local councils to housing associations, housing co-operatives and charities must be conditional on democratic control by the tenants (the new owners) of those properties.
Further motions from the Leeds Party and the Plymouth and South West Party call on the Co-operative Party to promote co-operative housing models on a much wider, larger scale.
In transport, the United Manchester Area Party has said that the private sector is unable and unwilling to provide users of public transport with either an efficient of economic service. It says the Government should scrap the de-regulation of public transport and institute a system of Local Authority control (as in London) with a strong co-operative element.
A section of the agenda is dedicated to ensuring gender equality throughout the Co-operative Party.
A motion from the Colchester & East Essex Party says conference should instruct the National Executive Committee to take positive action to ensure that its membership includes 50 per cent women by 2009.
A motion from the CG Bath and Wilts Party says the issue of gender balance should be addressed. And it says that a rule change should make sure the seats for each region should be shared between one woman and one man.
Delegates are also calling on the Co-operative Party to "spearhead" a campaign encouraging local communities to become a Fairtrade Town.
A motion from the CG South and West Essex Party suggests the National Executive Committee should make achieving the Fairtrade Town status a major campaigning objective.
The CG Scottish Party will put forward a motion demanding the Government introduce a favourable tariff regime for Fairtrade Products – which "tend to be more expensive than comparable brands".
The CG North London Party notes the serious situation of the shortage of care homes in Britain. It says conference should call on the National Executive Committee to promote the operation of elderly care schemes and homes on a mutual/co-operative basis.