Co-operative Group delegates have unanimously backed reform of the society. In a special general meeting, following the annual meeting on Saturday, delegates from Co-operative Group regions and independent society members backed the first step to change the governance structure of the society. One hundred and sixty four delegates from seven regional boards and 21 independent societies took part in the vote. It has agreed to a motion that calls for the creation of a board of directors elected by members that is individually and collectively qualified to lead and organisation of the size and complexity the society. Other principles agreed to, include:
- The establishment of a structure that gives The Co-operative Group’s members appropriate powers to hold the Board properly to account for the performance of the business and adherence to co-operative values and principles.
- A move to the concept of ‘one member one vote’ with appropriate representation for independent Co-operative societies.
- The inclusion of necessary provisions in the Rules for The Co-operative Group to protect against de-mutualisation.
The motion has been created on the back of challenges faced by the Group over the past year, and will take into consideration the reviews published by Lord Myners and Sir Christopher Kelly.
Chair Ursula Lidbetter told delegates this is “very important for the history of the Group”. Consultation will start this weekend with the regional boards of the Co-operative Group. Ms Lidbetter promised that consultation will extend to area committees and independent societies over the coming weeks.
During the 20-minute debate, Adrienne Lowe, chair of the south east region, said she acknowledges the need for change and fully supports the opportunity for reform, but she advised: “This should be interpreted as an enabling motion. The cost of getting it wrong is very high. We support motion on the understanding that elected members are fully consulted and that any structures are in line with the co-op principles of the International Co-operative Alliance and the Co-operatives UK code of governance.”
Peter Roffey, president of Channel Islands Co-op, an independent member, said: “Of course we must vote for reform, but this resolution is so vague that anyone can interpret it in any number of ways.”
Responded chair Ursula Lidbetter: “It may seem vague and I have sometimes called it motherhood and apple pie. But what we put together between us does actually mean something important. It has to feel like a co-operative. The Co-op Group has a resurrection ahead of it. It is very important that we engage with all of you.”
Tricia Davies, chair of the south west board, commented: “We need to collectively send a message to the critical world outside that we are ready for change. Stakeholders are crying out for us to address the devastation we have endured.”
Patrick Gray, president of independent member Midcounties Co-operative, added: “A powerful message will go out that the movement is ready to embrace change. We want to see the Group as the source of strength for the movement.”
Commenting on a future structure, he said: “We know, both as co-operators and people running a business, that there is a satisfactory democratic solution. It must be co-operative and it must be effective.”
In this article
- Adrienne Lowe
- Christopher Kelly
- Co-operatives UK
- Consumer cooperative
- International Co-operative Alliance
- Midcounties Co-operative
- Patrick Gray
- Peter Roffey
- Rochdale Principles
- The Co-operative Food
- The Co-operative Group
- Tricia Davies
- Ursula Lidbetter
- United Kingdom
- Top Stories