The Co-op has today started issuing notices setting out the agenda for our AGM on 19 May. This marks the start of the election period for selecting new members of the National Members’ Council (one third of whom have to be elected or re-elected each year), and also for electing two Member Nominated Directors (MND’s).
My second two year term as an MND comes to an end at the AGM, and I am standing for re-election for a third term. This time, thanks to a change at the 2018 AGM, the term of office would be for three years.
The ability to campaign in such elections is very limited. But you can see my electoral statements and a short two minute video here .
I am keen to continue on the Board in particular to continue championing ethics and sustainability, drawing on my Fair Trade experience. But I also want to ensure we carry through improvements in all our key businesses, so they serve our members more effectively. And there’s more to do to motivate equip and reward our colleagues better and to encourage members to become more involved. Equally, at this time of national tensions and division, the active promotion of co-operative values and principles and the strengthening of local communities seems more important than ever. We need a thriving Co-op to demonstrate that there really is a better way of doing business. With an in-depth understanding of the Co-op built up through four years on the Board, I hope I could contribute effectively in all of these areas.
Those entitled to vote in the elections are Co-op members who spent at least £250 in the course of 2018 through our Food or Electricals businesses, as well as those who have taken out products from our Funerals or Insurance businesses. For the last time, having accounts at the Co-operative Bank may also contribute towards a voting qualification. Of our 4.5 million members about half will be theoretically eligible to vote, though in practice the turnout is often nearer 100,000.
We would love to see more members actively engaged in this democratic process – one of the things that makes a co-operative different. It is perhaps understandable that turnout is so low when membership is dispersed across the UK, when most regard their relationship with the Co-op mainly in transactional terms, and when people don’t really know any of the candidates. However, the hope must be that as we become more active in our engagement with local communities so the sense of belonging and ownership will strengthen and encourage more to participate in voting.
If you are entitled to vote you should receive a notice of the AGM by email in the next few days. If you think you should have received a voting email and it hasn’t arrived by 24 April please check your spam folder and if it isn’t there call the Co-op on 0800 023 4708 during normal working hours.
Please do participate in our democracy – and of course please consider voting for me!