273 words approx. 1 minute to read.

Over the last few months, Council Members and I have been out and about meeting Co-op members at our Shape your Community events. Rufus introduced you to them in a blog post in September.

These events have allowed members to have a say on how our Co-op can improve communities and champion a better way of doing business. It’s also a great opportunity for members to meet their local Council representatives.

We’re just approaching the end of our events. So far, we’ve met more than 850 members and people from the community and heard all sorts of feedback about our Co-op, our campaigns to tackle loneliness and, as well as new ideas about making great things happen in our communities.

Some of the key themes we’ve been hearing include:

  • using our stores to ‘shout more’ about our campaigning work
  • extending our opening our Local Community Fund up to a wider range of co-operatives and community groups
  • opening more Co-op Food stores

We’ll be collating all this feedback over the coming weeks to inform what we’ll focus on as a Co-op and a Members’ Council in 2018.

There’s still time to Shape your Community

If you were unable to attend one of our events, please comment below with your questions about how you think our Co-op can make a difference in your community, or anything else that’s on your mind. I’ll be putting some of the big issues to our Group CEO, Steve Murrells next week and we’ll share a video of our discussion.

Nick Crofts
President of the National Members’ Council

Join the conversation! 25 Comments

  1. Keeping Co-ops open? You are closing the one in Widley, which gets a lot of foot traffic, and replacing it with a funeral service place presumably because of the newer one in Purbrook, which seems to be mostly designed for people passing with cars.. So I might just as well get on the bus and go to Tesco or Asda…..Its a real shame

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  2. The Co-op has relatively recently secured a building in Mullion Village, and plans to open early next year.
    Offering a free delivery service within the village only, would be helping the community, as there are a lot of elderly and housebound people. This could work using volunteers, voluntary driving their own cars, as is what currently happens for other local services, I myself voluntary drive.

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  3. I’d like to question whether the Co-op is really listening to the community when it comes to developing pub sites for new shops, be that demolishing, converting or taking part of the land.

    In 2016 the Co-op agreed some guidelines with CAMRA which is supposed to guide them when deciding whether to go ahead with these sites. My own experience (The Eagle Galleywood) and that of many other campaign groups trying to save their pub seems to suggest that the Co-op does anything but listen or engage with the local community.
    Whilst it can be great to have a new store opening it should not be at the expense of a more important community asset. Pubs are known to play a huge role in combating isolation and loneliness and increasing social cohesion. I have first hand experience of this.

    From a community point of view we don’t understand why the Co-op seems to be deliberately targeting pubs (one example being the collaboration with New River Retail) which seems to go against everything the Co-op claims to stand for and as an organisation you seem much worse than other retailers.

    As a further question I’d like to ask whether the various Co-ops have any strategy to work together as in our particular case our pub garden is being taken (which we believe will lead to loss of the pub) by the Manchester co-op when the main shop in our village is a local Chelmsford Star Co-op. It seems slightly mad that these two shops will be in competition with each other with the possibility that one will close.

    In our case, our community has overwhelming rejected your proposition in favour of keeping our pub garden and hopefully the pub but you have completely failed to listen.

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    • As a Group Council Member I regret that such un-cooperative strategies occur. Co-operation among Co-operatives is a vital principle but in food retail Group and independents consultative relations are lacking it seems. It isn’t always the Group!

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      • Hi Paul,
        My experience is only that of the retail group, and I believe that this is a terrible mistake the co op retail group are making, it goes against all the co op principles. Pub companies will tell the co op what they want to hear about each site, there’s a lot of money in it for them, that’s why it’s so important they meet and listen to the communities to get both sides of the story. We could really write a book about what’s gone on at The Eagle, and after learning over the last two years how these pub companies operate, Ist hard to believe the co op still have ties with them
        K

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  4. Completely agree with Nick Why mark. Co-op have clearly shown they couldn’t care less about what the local people want. We are over run with your stores and this one isn’t wanted by the people who live there. Community will be losing a village asset. All you care about is your profit

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  5. I’ve been following the co op and there purchasing/leasing of pubs and there associated land, up and down the country over the last two years.
    I feel the co op have got this totally wrong, on one hand you work with the Red Cross to help with loneliness in communities on the other you line the pockets of asett stripping pub companies and create loneliness. I know you will say you look carefully at each site, well we know from experience that’s not true, we would like for you to come and meet the community who pub you are going to destroy by building in its garden, leaving no green space for the pub. The landlady spoke on BBC radio only yesterday saying how the new store in the garden will mean having to cancel many event including wedding parties in the garden next year, this will affect the viability of the pub without doubt. Come and meet us, that’s all we ask.

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    • Hi Kim, thank you for your comment. I know you say you don’t think my colleagues in the Property teams looks carefully at each site, but with former or current Pubs, we really do. In fact, we are the first British grocer to draw up guidelines around this with CAMRA and if the Pub can remain in place or be taken over by the community should it need managing, we won’t get in the way of that. ^Jordan

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  6. If the Co-Op rally want to help the community can they explain the benefits of closing local public houses and converting them into supermarkets?

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  7. Hi Jordan,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I am aware of the Co-ops agreement with CAMRA.

    Here’s one of those guidelines you mention:

    “Listen to the views of the local community – individuals, groups, including CAMRA branches, and local elected representatives and be willing to meet appropriate local representatives to discuss concerns.
    Not stand in the way of a any group seeking to acquire and run a community pub.Develop land adjacent to an existing pub in a way that enhances the viability of both the new convenience store and the existing pub.Talk to CAMRA when exceptional circumstances mean it may not be possible to fully adhere to these principles.”

    In our case neither us or our community had any engagement whatsoever from the Co-op. We had 400+ objections, the most our planning committee had ever seen, which is amazing when you consider they deal with a large city (Chelmsford) and we are just a small village. Planning permission was refused and yet you STILL WENT AHEAD AND APPEALED the decision. How is that listening to the views of the local community?

    I’m not trying to be anti Co-op here, there’s no doubt that as organisations you do some great work, but your behaviour with developing pub sites is entirely contrary to that and you in fact ignore your own guidelines. It’s not just us we have heard the same story from other groups of local people in the same situation.

    You have also been criticised by “save the pub” all party parliamentary group. See here:
    https://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Article/2016/07/07/Predatory-purchasing-Co-op-accused-of-breaking-promise-to-protect-viable-pubs

    We would really appreciate you taking this issue forward for discussion in your “shape the community” forum as the loss of a pub genuinely affects people in the locality and a pub has a far greater positive effect on loneliness than a shop. I literally beg you have this issue as part of your discussion because even if it is too late for us the Co-op really needs to rethink its attitude on this one!

    Thank you for listening.
    NIck.

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  8. Apologies – where I say “In our case neither us or our community” I meant to say “In our case neither our local CAMRA group or our community”..

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  9. A comment was removed because it contravened our Social Media Community Policy by sharing another’s personal data. coop.uk/social ^Jordan

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    • So Jordan you are still there reading our comments, I wonder why you are not answering our questions ?

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      • Hi Kim, we’ve asked for people to comment with questions for Nick Crofts to ask Steve Murrells. we’ll jump in if we have some helpful information or where ever required. But, essentially these comments will be considered by Nick, alongside comments from our Shape your Community events and Join In on the Membership website, to ask Steve. Thanks for taking part. ^Jordan

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  10. To be clear, the local community in Galleywood have worked tremendously hard to retain the pub, and fabulous garden for all to enjoy.

    As the Co op plans to take over the garden, the viability of the pub is entirely put into question.

    Specifically the “shape” Galleywood community wants, does not include any additional shop in that spot, we have a preference to continue with the pub and gardens.

    Retaining the pub and garden, actually would reduce your need to fund raise for local loneliness issues, as the pub does serve as a place for the community to join together.

    I hope you chose to listen to our small community.

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  11. The village has made it more than clear that this new Co op is not wanted. It will be a blot on our landscape and we are more than adequately served by existing shops. Personally I will definitely not be using this unwelcome shop.

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  12. Another recent example is the Royal Oak in Barrow. The village has overwhelmingly rejected the conversion of their pub into a co-op, the local council has rejected the application and yet the quote from the co-op in the local paper is “We are disappointed with the council’s decision and will now take some time to consider our options”.

    Surely the council is supporting the wishes of its residents and the co-op should respect those wishes and find an alternative site?

    http://www.scunthorpetelegraph.co.uk/news/local-news/supermarket-chain-consider-options-after-668812

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    • A good result for local empowerment I hope

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      • Hi Paul,

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. It is a good result for local empowerment but unfortunately there are many many other examples where the co-op has ridden rough shod over local sentiment.

        I’m really curious as to why the co-op seems to have a deliberate policy of targeting pubs, as evidenced by your agreement with new river retail (and just googling). I understand that these are perhaps ideal sites for you, but in many cases they are very significant to the cohesiveness of a community.

        I also don’t think the co-op does due diligence but simply believes whatever the pub owning company tells them – who obviously have a vested interest in making money out of their portfolio of property (which is how they seem to view pubs these days).

        Whilst other retailers do behave similarly the co-op seems to have a deliberate strategy, which as I mentioned before really goes against the community minded principles of your organisation.

        In short out of all the retailers I’d expect the co-op to be the one behaving the best, not the worst. That’s not to denigrate the good things you do, but seems at odds with those good works.

        Regards,
        Nick

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      • Paul,

        If you’d like to visit our village to discuss these issues (with just a very small group of us) and take a look at the proposed site we’d be more than happy to see you.

        I’ll even buy you a beer!

        Regards,
        Nick.

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  13. Here’s another community toasting their victory over the caring sharing co-op. More negative publicity for you guys. Please, I beg you, get the message and walk away from this new river retail and your policy of killing pubs!

    http://www.halesowennews.co.uk/news/15667748.Regulars_toast_a_new_era_for_pub_after_three_year_battle_comes_to_an_end/

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    • Sadly Nick there are communities all over the country spending hours and hours of there time battling to stop co op’s being built in pubs and there gardens and car parks,our group alone spent over 3000 hrs, not once did anyone from the co op come and meet us, definitely not the caring co op. And now the Chelmsford star co op are doing a damage limitation excercise because the store in Barnard Rd is suffering from the community boycotting that store because they don’t want the new store at the eagle. See co op’s don’t even look out for other co op’s, what chance did we stand as a village community to be heard

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#TheCoopWay, Membership