Remote democracy at the Phone Co-op’s AGM

The members of the Phone Co-op have overwhelmingly voted to transfer engagements to Midcounties Co-op – or, to put it bluntly, to be taken over. It’s a move (which admittedly now has to be formally ratified at a second SGM) I personally think is the right decision. The SGM in Sheffield was well organised and good humoured. The main vote was 202 in favour and 17 against.

I took part remotely, using live streaming and an online voting facility. Well done to the Phone Co-op for making this possible. There were, it is true, technical glitches but they were overcome.

This was an interesting experience for me, the first time I have participated remotely at a co-op general meeting. It is, I think, much better if at all possible to attend an event like this in person – there’s a commitment involved which isn’t necessarily there is you’re sitting at home online at risk of all sorts of other distractions (I had to momentarily dip out of proceedings when a friend came round wanting to use my printer for an emergency printing job for his youth group…) There’s a need for some etiquette for online participants too.  Some people (in usual social media style) were passing running comments (not always complimentary) as speakers were in mid-flow, and I’m not sure this is something which we should encourage.

But participating online did mean I could attend an AGM of a local coop I’m involved in at 11am this morning and still be enfranchised for the Phone Co-op meeting. So – good work.

3 thoughts on “Remote democracy at the Phone Co-op’s AGM

  1. I am so sorry to report that it have proven near impossible to comment on your blog due to wordpress adverts obscuring the comment box effectively having me type this blind. I use an android phone. Ive spent 40 minutes trying. Ive lost original script and thought on your subject of effective partipation in AGM and other coop democracy as unavoidable clicking on the advert means all typing to that point is instantly lost. Ive lost patience now. WordPress also have no easy contact us to feedback to them. I’m too frustrated. Im effectively disenfranchised from participating in your blog discussion. Rather ironic eh?

  2. One issue that was never really bottomed out in the course of the discussion started at the AGM was the extent to which members’ share capital could or should have risk attached to it. I think it was legitimate to challenge the strategy put forward at the AGM which involved major losses that could have eaten into members’ share capital in quite a big way if income was below forecast. But if members’ share capital is not really risk capital, then why on earth did The Phone Co-op need £7m of it – with interest being paid out which could otherwise have been used to bolster reserves? It seems to me there was something wrong there: The Phone Co-op should not have been seen as something like a building society where people could deposit and withdraw their savings at will. What do you think?

  3. Martin, the share capital serves a purpose because can be invested in non-risky assets like buildings, which reduce the co-op’s outgoings. Maybe the student housing co-op buildings for instance?


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