As we enter into the New Year I think it is worth updating members in the South West on my contribution to  the Members Council since  I was re-elected in May 2020

I was re-elected by members in the South West, thank you for voting for me.  The National Council has a number of standing committees and I was elected to serve the Business Performance Committee, This is the committee that has the responsibility to oversee the Groups financial health and to question the Director of Finance on the financial performance of the Group.  Whilst much of the information we receive is confidential, I can report that I and the other members of the Committee question the DOF on a wide range of issues.  Topics include monitoring the overheads of the Group, Group expenditure on PPE and other Covid related costs, pricing and cost monitoring in our Funeral business and tracking the like for likes revenue across all our businesses.  These are a small number of examples of the wide range of issues that I and the other members of the committee deal with over the course of the year.

The Council were concerned about the level of funding that the Group were proposing to give to some of our important Co-operative bodies..  In particular we raised issues around funding to the Co-op College and the Co-operative Press.   I am pleased to report that the Board have taken our views into account and are now re-engaging with these bodies to ensure that funding to these groups are secured and that any changes in funding in the long run are communicated properly and in a timely manner.

Our AGM in May and the members Half Yearly meetings in October went digital this year.  I was pleased to see  that for a first effort in digital meetings they passed off quiet successfully.  Whilst physical meetings are traditional, they exclude a number of people who work during the day and those who can not afford to travel to Manchester to attend the AGM or people who for one reason or another can not travel.  Digital meetings allow a wider participation but we need to ensure those members who are digitally excluded have a means to participate - ensuring they can vote by post and sending them a CD of the meeting so they can view the proceedings.

Finally I asked the Group to moved our Internet search engine from Bing to Ecosia. Ecosia uses its revenue to plant trees around the world to reforest the world.  To date they have planted over 110m trees world wide.  Click here to learn more and to change your search engine.  Here is the latest press release from the Group about the change.

"I was so pleased to hear Steve talk recently about the British Retail Consortium climate roadmap and I’m also so proud of the ongoing work we’re doing in so many areas including reducing waste and plastic packaging and making our supply chain far more sustainable. As we find ourselves in a climate emergency, our commitment to driving sustainable change has never been so important.

The suggestion to partner with Ecosia came from our Member’s Council and it seemed like a no brainer when I realised the difference we could all make if we partnered with them. Ecosia is like any other search engine, but with one major distinction: they use their profits from micro-advertising to plant trees in areas where they’re needed most.

There are numerous benefits to planting trees, so using Ecosia is a simple change we all can make. At the time of writing Ecosia has planted a staggering 114 million trees in projects around the world. We estimate that if all our colleagues using Co-op devices get on board and start using this search engine, we can plant up to 100,000 trees in our first year – just based on how colleagues search today.

In addition, many other web services collect user data to sell it without asking for your permission. I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear Ecosia don’t do this. Your searches are also encrypted, meaning they’re protected from potential eavesdroppers wanting your data. So not only is Ecosia brilliant for the environment, it’s safe and secure too."

So I am pleased that my suggestion will lead to an additional 300,000 trees before the next time I stand for the Council


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