Fri 12 May 2023 12:00PM

Coops Congress - WTF?!

MW matt wilson Public Seen by 160

Any one privy to the thinking behind inviting Andrew Griffith to speak at Coops Congress? Griffith, who's worked for SKY and Just Eat, also loaned his £9.5 million town house to Boris to coordinate his leadership bid, and contnued to back him when most tories had realised he was too toxic even for the Conservative Party.. Doesn't exactly scream 'cooperative movement'...


Tatiana Baskakova, Ceramics, Ldn Fri 12 May 2023 12:17PM

Wow, thanks for keeping your eyes peeled @matt wilson

Is it just another deeply dissappointing thing CUK is doing or a big trend and misunderstanding of objects? I would love to know more of how is this relates to our businesses that "are founded upon principles of social justice and democratic control" ... (that's from CUK Rule book) 😖


Buncey Fri 12 May 2023 12:38PM

Very good points raised! After a bit of digging, it would appear that Andrew is a Member of the 'Co-operatives, Mutuals and Friendly Societies Bill Committe' (https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/630/cooperatives-mutuals-and-friendly-societies-bill/membership/)

I'm guessing CUK's logic is that this Committee role, plus the fact Andrew currently serves as 'Economic Secretary', makes them a "good" person to have at Congress? Does seem a choice in poor taste, especially when you consider the points @matt wilson raised.


Simon Ball (Blake House) Fri 12 May 2023 1:51PM

There's the usual suspects like Lisa Nandy and Andy Burnham to balance it all out though so it's not that bad.


Leila O'Sullivan Fri 12 May 2023 3:50PM

Appreciate reading the views on this and hope it's ok to come back from a Co-operatives UK point of view. I know Buncey's alluded to this, but to provide some context:

Andrew Griffith is the UK Government Minister with responsibility for co-operatives. His department (HM Treasury) is taking forward legislation that will make a vital change to co-operative law, has plans for a full review of co-operative law, and is sending a team of officials to Congress to learn more about our sector. For these reasons we deemed it appropriate for him to address Congress this year.

We do not get to choose our ministers and governments. As a non-party political association, we must leave our personal party political views at the door to ensure we help make the best possible business environment for co-operatives. Our policy team has recently been challenged by members for being too Labour-leaning in our positioning and output, and for not doing enough to appeal to Conservatives inside and outside the co-operative movement. Having a Conservative government minister on the Congress programme helps to strike the balance many members demand.

We are always open to suggestions for speakers at our events and likewise, happy to discuss the content of this year's Co-op Congress – and future events. Please do contact [email protected] in the first instance and we'll be happy to discuss further or share with the relevant person(s) at CUK. Thanks!


Billy Smith Sat 13 May 2023 1:25AM

@Leila O'Sullivan

The fact that they're planning to change the laws about co-operatives and mutuals is something we should all be paying attention to.

What sort of changes do they plan to make?


Buncey Sat 13 May 2023 5:24AM

@Leila O'SullivanThanks@O'SullivanThanks for taking the time to respond to this - it's all very interesting to read.

I feel the irony is that in this model of democracy we are still technically responsible for choosing our Minsters and government.

I'd like to know that, regardless of their party, CUK holds any person in government to account and challenges them appropriately if they aren't acting to develop the co-operative movement. So I guess on that basis it's all the better Andrew Griffith will be there in person to be questioned and held accountable by the movement.


Leila O'Sullivan Tue 23 May 2023 11:20AM

@Christopher Roseby-Bunce @Billy Smith

Apologies for the delay in responding.

The changes are something we have been lobbying for – Co-operatives UK with others and on behalf of our members – have been lobbying on for many years, working with Sir Mark Hendrick, Labour and Co-operative MP. The primary legislation, which will give HM Treasury powers to create an optional ‘asset lock’ for co-operative societies through more detailed secondary legislation, is in the final stages of its passage through Parliament.

Once this law is passed (it's in its very final stages), HM Treasury will work on the details and Co-operatives UK will ensure this serves the needs and views of the sector. So we will be working closely with relevant departments (including Andrew Griffiths' team) on the specifics of the legislation. Read about the bill and updates as it's moved through Parliament (House of Commons and House of Lords) here: https://www.uk.coop/LandmarkReform. If you've further questions about the Bill, please contact [email protected]

Re Andrew Griffiths at Congress: Unfortunately, due to diary challenges, he won’t be there in person. However he has been invited speak specifically about how he and his department is acting to develop the co-operative movement.


Billy Smith Tue 23 May 2023 6:02PM

@Leila O'Sullivan

There's one version of an asset-lock already in use by co-operatives, that operates under the existing legislation. :D

The way the Initial Members of Sanford Housing Coop in SE London did it, was to have a clause in the Articles of the Coop, so that the only place that the assets of the Coop could be sold to is another Coop with an identical set of Articles. :D

It was explicitly referenced in discussions around 2009-2014, when one Coop member proposed selling the assets of the coop and splitting the money between the members.

This was shot down as breaking the Articles of the coop, so dis-allowed. It was also pointed out that this would mean that everyone in the coop would end up paying London private residential rents, so the money received by each member would be equivalent to eight months rent...

The member who proposed this moved out a few months after he was told no.

This is the reason that those clauses were put in place at the very beginning by the Initial Members of the coop; To block the actions of carpetbaggers joining later.

It's good to hear that there's a longer-term solution being worked on, rather than the ad-hoc approach that was used at Sanford. :D


Also, there's an additional lock that was put into the freehold when Sanford bought the land in the early 2000's.

As Sanford had been paying a peppercorn ground rent, and the right-to-buy legislation specified that the price was to be a multiple of the ground rent, Lewisham Council were not happy about selling a large piece of land at a low price. To assuage them, but also to add to the asset-lock, the Chair of Sanford at that time, suggested that Lewisham add a clause to the sale of the land, so that it always has to be solely affordable-public-housing. :D

And this clause will carry over to every future owner of the land, even if Sanford fails. :D

If all of the land is not used for affordable-public-housing, then the land reverts to Lewisham Council. :D

It'll be interesting to see the approach that you use. :D