511 words, approx 3 mins to read.

Co-ops are special organisations, democratically controlled by their member-owners and not vast institutional shareholders. Co-ops are accountable to their members and give them a chance to have their say in how they do business.

May 18 is a special day in our Co-op’s calendar. It’s our AGM, which will be held at Manchester Central this year. Before the big day, more than two million of our members have the opportunity to participate in decision-making that will guide the future of the Co-op that they own. As ever, I’m really looking forward to it.

At the front of my mind, as President, are the National Members’ Council elections. We have fantastic candidates standing for election around the UK. Council act as a voice and platform for members and independent co-ops to be heard in our business.  Please make sure you vote in this year’s elections and choose who you think would be the most passionate about representing you and making a difference.

You can also vote in our Member Nominated Director (MND) elections.  MNDs make sure our members’ voice is heard at the highest level. Just like our Executive and Independent Non-Executive Directors, they sit on the Board, but the difference is they’re chosen directly by our members.

Ahead of our AGM, we’re asking members to support motions; these are key decisions that will affect the way we do business. This year, motions include: appointing auditors, receiving our Annual Report and Accounts, approving pay and remuneration for executives and directors, electing our Independent Non-Executive Directors, and approving our political spend as a founding member of the Co-operative Party.

Council is also championing its own motions on sustainable sourcing and Fairtrade. These are important issues and show that Co-op is determined to be ethical, sustainable and minimise the impact we have on the environment; as a democracy, we really do care about the world we share.

With the Board, we are also recommending a motion to support our Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign to champion crime and colleague safety. This is a huge issue for Council and Co-op. We’re proud of the tens of thousands of our colleagues in our stores, funeral homes, offices and distribution centres. The number of our colleagues who experience incidents of abuse and violence is a scandal and Co-op has been working in partnership with MPs and other retailers to get the government to act and make crucial changes to the law so we can keep our communities and workplaces safe.

I hope I’ve highlighted how important it is to use your vote as a Co-op Member, you can have your say if you’ve spent £250 at Co-op in the last year and received an invitation in the post or email from us.  Make sure you register to come along to our AGM to enjoy Co-op’s festival of democracy – not least because you’ll get to hear my speech!

To find out more about the 2019 AGM and elections, visit: www.co-operative.coop/agm

Nick Crofts
President of the National Members’ Council


If you’ve received a Co-op voting invitation by letter or email, vote now!




Join the conversation! 12 Comments

  1. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for commenting and sharing your views and suggestions, we really appreciate it. If you’re unable to attend our AGM and have online access, you can watch our AGM live on YouTube, get involved and post comments here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPAWyq_sXwQ&feature=youtu.be.

  2. Hi Mr Edwards,
    I can’t possibly afford either the time or the money it would cost to get to the AGM from Totnes,Devon, and I don’t know how to vote for people I know nothing about. I am constantly being sent invitations to vote, but don’t seem to have any info on what is being voted for, or bios of the people being voted for.
    I think there needs to be more thought given to this process for those of us who will not be there in person.

    Gillian Langton

  3. I will go to both the Midcounties Co-operative AGM and the Group AGM in the next two weekends; but what I am struck by is that the culture of the two organisations is so different. Midcounties want to engage and welcome our questions in an open co-operative way. The Midcounties AGM is at ease, whereas there is a tension in the Group AGM; in case someone asks a tough question (on pay ratio’s for example). But the Group did everything in their power to ignore my pay ratio motion, which was carried overwhelmingly. We hear constantly from the top table; but they don’t want a proper or serious debate with members on any difficult or controversial issue. So we constantly get motions drafted by the executive for which they do 15 minute presentations. But when my motion came to be considered they grudgingly gave me 2 minutes after I had a row with the chairman. Not really open and engaging.The culture of the Group isn’t co-operative, which is really sad. Let’s see how they deal with us this year…If they were serious about engagement they would allow online motions and not require 100+ hard copy paper signatures (this is 2019…!!). They would also hold a debate on a serious issue about the way the business is being run. All we get at the AGM is 20-25 disaggregated questions and either a straightforward answer, or a neat side step for a tough question. The Group could do better…

  4. Luke; the CRTG (or whatever it’s now called) isn’t a charitable organisation, as you imply, but a commercial operation owned and controlled by the 18, or so, member societies (including Midcounties) who are shareholding members of the group. This centralised buying and distribution network is the only way the Co-op can compete with the national multiples.

    Perhaps Midcounties is significantly different in that it’s owned AND controlled by its members, unlike the Group which is now set up more like a building society.

  5. It would be useful if Council members, standing for election, could attend a pre AGM Q&A session. For those members unable to attend, something similar could be done online.

    • hi Bill,

      I think that’s a very good idea and have mentioned it to Barbara Holligan from the Council who was kind enough to contact me. I think you should pursue the idea!

      Gillian Langton

  6. I agree totally with John, as a disabled pensioner whom is wheelchair bound, my only option is to travel be train and pay a small fortune for an accessible room.
    What is this I must spend £250 in a year, as my local co-op (Kingswood) has closed down, and is now a very successful LIdi. Where do I spend £250 ? Even the convenience store on Bristol Center has closed. My nearest Co-op is now 2 buses journeys away and is only a convenience store, so has a very limited range, mostly beer (as it is amongst the new student accommodation).

  7. i feel totally inadequate to vote for people I don’t know at all. Last year I read all the bios and tried to pick names, but I really feel this is a stupid and not very democratic way to choose people for positions, and so will not be doing that again and cannot come in person. Sorry!

    • Hi Gillian, I know what you mean and I feel the same every time I get building society voting papers, or voting papers from other coops I am a member of.
      For the Coop National Members Council, as a sitting member, my personal main concern is its diversity, including geographic diversity (where candidates live) so I try and cast votes based on that information, where I can fathom it out. But I recognise I am lucky as I am a sitting member and therefore can decide on such criteria to inform my vote – and of course, even with the same ‘insider’ knowledge, you would probably decide to vote differently than me (that’s democracy!)

      If you have any ideas as to what would make it easier for you to make an informed choice, please do send them to Council – council@coop.co.uk. As you may know the Council is a relatively new body in its current form, and we constantly review the processes, including election processes. Council really want Members to have a voice in the election processes for both Council and Board – so your suggestions will be very helpful and looked at through the lenses of practicality, cost, and whether they offer equality of opportunity- so do send us your thoughts. Thank you !

      • Hi Barbara, and thanks for your comments on my email! someone else has suggested that possibly people standing for election could do some kind of online “interview”, or brief description of where they are, their experience and interests etc so people like me who can’t attend in person have more idea of who they’re voting for. I think that would be very helpful.
        Do you think that might be acceptable to the Council?

        Gillian Langton(Devon) ps; I have recently moved to Totnes and am very sad to find the Co-Op has gone from here. We only have Morrison’s and independent shops, but a Co-op would be so useful, and many people have said so.

  8. I am afraid I am still cynical as no assistance is given to help members travel from distances(a pooled fare scheme could help) The only other meeting for members in Worcester is to travel to Stoke for an annual roadshow!
    No paper voting mine had to be requested 7 days to deliver! Not aimed at those without computer access.
    Where shall I go to excercise democracy-attend AGM of Midcounties to be held on Saturday in Droitwich 7 miles away. They even put on coaches to help members participate.
    Roger Berry

    • They do Barry. But the previous and current CEOs do have the firepower of 700,000 members and a strong balance sheet to call upon to run the (excellent) 600 people day at that excellent conference venue. And those coaches have had as few as four people riding on them in the past.

      Midcounties is able to be a co-op in significantly different ways to Group or even say Channel Islands, whilst relying on Manchester for 88% of every lorry load of food sold. as members it sounds like you and I benefit from that.


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