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MJR: The Cooperative Group

photo I'm an active member of The Cooperative Group and attend some of their events, participate in web chats, ask questions of managers and so on. You may also want to read about things that happened last year.

Constitutional Review Roadshow

Posted by mjr 2008-03-03 (permalink)

[Photo of Explore] On Saturday 1 March, I attended the Constitutional Review Roadshow at Explore@Bristol (pictured). The review is trying to develop the rules for the Cooperative Group after its merger with United. The event wasn't at all what I expected or hoped for.

There were relatively few individual members there. I don't know the split, but most of the 60 or so attendees seemed to be elected members of some sort and this was the first chance they'd had to comment since the open consultation ended last year. Some of the elected members had travelled from the Eastern and South East regions.

The initial slide "Purpose of Today" stated three aims:

  1. bring members up to date;
  2. give members the opportunity to ask questions;
  3. and aid members in preparing their formal feedback.

I don't feel the event really brought us up to date or aided in preparing formal feedback, because the roadshow appeared to summarise a report which hasn't been published. Some of the elected members had seen it the day before, but no copies were available to use at the event, so we were pretty much in the dark for some aspects.

The event didn't give us much opporunity to ask questions either, despite its length. I was expecting more of a consultation event, which was reinforced when I entered the room and saw seats gathered around tables. I did not expect an hour-long lecture followed by three hours or so of whole-group question- and-answer, broken by lunch. Even with the competent chairing (AFAICT), that was an amazingly inefficient way of working, with some people being cut short, but still leaving some people not being heard. It can be summed up by the chairman commenting

"I do not want this to turn into a discussion"

while the big screen next to him said "questions and discussion"!

Headlines from the review: similar elected structures to current Group structure, but regional board nominated by individual members; merge regions to produce six new regions (West Midlands and North West, Wales and South West, London and South East, Eastern England and East and South Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber and North East, Scotland and Northern Ireland); add management and non-executive directors to national board; no clue how to fix diversity problems; no view on fees or job spec until structures are defined.

I'll go through the slides in detail and post the questions and answers if anyone leaves a comment asking for them. Otherwise, I think I've lost enough time to this for now.

Philip Rapier commented:

"Hi MJR, i am sorry you are disappoined but not surprised. Progressive modernisers like myself and fought very hard to get this far. Do let us have more of your views Kind regards


I may be in touch... or you can find me in the members online discussions and/or Co-opNet.

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