Members have asked why they were never given a vote on the Britannia merger, or why bondholders got a vote on the recapitalisation plan but members did not. We understand that a member vote on recapitalisation was not really an option. A member vote on Britannia would have been feasible but probably would have made no difference.
Perhaps one way to address this feeling of powerlessness for members, this feeling of being ignored would be to introduce direct elections to the board. The Manchester Area Committee is divided on whether we think this is a good idea.
The filtering mechanism that requires board candidates to serve on area committees and regional boards sometimes means little competition for seats and leaves area committee electors with little or no choice. The choice of candidates on the area committees to represent them at Regional board level is similarly limited. There is not enough challenge.
As an alternative to direct elections an electoral conference could open up the competition in a similar way. This would go hand in hand with a relaxation of the rule requiring group board members to sit on an area committee. Delegates to such a conference - perhaps from the smaller Community Committees we are suggesting - could hear from a range of candidates and make informed choices.