Cluster meeting: informal and productive

It was a great turn out for the Saturday morning following 'black Friday'.

Especially given that our experimental cluster meeting had been advertised with barely two weeks' notice, just by word of mouth, the local member group email list, a few notices stuck up in stores, and on this website. The Co-operative Group membership team were supportive (thanks). But they could not mail or email local members because it would have taken too long to get clearance.

The meeting brought together customer and employee members for a friendly, informal discussion about how to make the stores work best for local members and the local community.

This is the core of the Cluster idea: bringing all members together at a level where they can hope to make a real difference.

Our discussions in small groups (see photo) came up with plenty of ideas for activities and changes - and we'll be posting a summary here.

The cluster meeting then agreed on next steps:

We'll follow up on our ideas, aiming to make them a reality. Some we can work on straight away, others will take time or persuasion. We'll promote them in the local member group and in the Manchester Area Committee while it still exists. And we will hold another cluster meeting soon (7 February 2015, 10.30) - with time to inform local members, hopefully with the support of the membership team in Angel Square. 

We'll promote the Cluster notion as a way forward for the Co-op. Will argue the importance of the key elements:

  • Local, bringing together people who know each other and the stores;
  • Organised by the members, around the stores that make sense to them, in ways that work for them;
  • No one template, different places will do them differently;
  • Customers and staff working together;
  • Making a difference locally by acting locally, not just passing ideas up to the Council.

We'd like to hear from members, colleagues and elected members elsewhere on what they think.

Click here to read the page where the meeting was advertised on this site, with more about the background




To my mind, no matter how the membership is represented on the 'new' Co-op Board, that membership representation has to SHARE and BELIEVE in the Co-ops commercial business plan. In fact, the business plan has to be the ONLY focus for both member representatives and exec alike. Before the Co-op can continue its social activities, it has to be stabilised and made PROFITABLE. The Co-op membership has signed up to a 'strategy' called Vital5. Now whether the membership realises this ( or not) Vital5 DEMANDS members co-operation, Let's face it, previously the membership put too much 'faith' in representation that did not understand the business of the Co-op...and the Co-op exec wanted it, like that. Vital5 is similar. It makes 'grand' statements about 'engaging' the membership but the detail is much less 'engaging!' Vital5 talks about repairing the 'plumbing' ie the appalling IT structure. Vital5 is going to be expensive. Who will fund it? Members? Ideally yes but...will they! Outside financiers. Probably. In return they will want a 'slice' of the Co-op, then... BANG! No more Co-op as a members' Am I a scaremonger? Hope so but... I don't think so. So, Springboard, it is time for hard-nosed 'reality' instead of 'harking' back to the 'good-old-days' because the truth is, those BASTARDS who ran the Co-op ( into the ground) mislead the membership by feeding it 'crumbs' to keep it 'docile!' Will ANYONE reply to this? I wonder. Compliments of the Season to one and all. Regards, Tom Reynolds. Co-op member.