Wednesday, 28 February 2007

AGM 2007

I can safely report that the Annual General Meeting was an enjoyable meeting. Four members not shown if you're counting heads - doesn't everyone do that?

a) Chair, Secretary and Treasurer all re-elected unopposed.
b) Four delegates to Area Co-op Party filled easily
c) Delegates to Withington Labour Party are John Hacking and Geoff Bridson
d) Delegate to Manchester Central - Peter Copping.

The interesting discussion as always was on the future program for the year. Big support for a film night of clips from the past. This is now technically easy to achieve these days, now we have access to DVD burners, laptops and projectors. Home Care Co-ops, a trip to the co-operative brewery in Cumbria, carbon off-setting and a celebratory meal were some of the other ideas. You get the idea that our Co-op Branch is for political types who want to be on friendly territory. Why not? We're all in this together.

Big support for financial donations to help candidates in winnable seats this May. You get the idea that beating the Lib-Dems is a priority.

There is a complimentary blog entry "Co-op Party Divis Up Results" about the Withington Co-op Party AGM at chorltonparklabour by ever active member John Hacking.

Fairtrade # 2

Good display of fair trade products at Unicorn Co-operative Grocery in Chorlton. But note how they've expanded it beyond just products that have the familiar Fairtrade Foundation logo (it's not cheap to get that on your packet - but that's another story). Zaytoun Olive Oil from Palestine on the left, and some excellent white rum in the middle. A shop that doesn't sell sugar but sells alcohol made from sugar (but that's another story too).

Tuesday, 27 February 2007


Just a plug for the South Manchester Credit Union of which many of us are members of. Their AGM is on Tuesday 6th March at 1930h. Venue is St.Peter's Church at the corner of Barlow Road and Stockport Road in Levenshulme. Looking for helpers, if you wish to volunteer an hour a month.
"What makes a Credit Union different from a bank is that it is owned and run by its members - people like you"

If you are interested in saving and joining speak to Paul our Secretary at the Withington Co-op Party AGM or email: smcu AT If you ever wonder why I spell out email that way it's to stop pesky spammers collecting yet another address to mither...

I'm hoping to set up an online calendar this week to keep track of all the meetings that are going on and which might be relevant.

Monday, 26 February 2007

Andy Walsh FCUM

I've heard that Andy Walsh the General Manager of FC United will be speaking at the Co-op Manchester Area Party AGM (delegates only) on Saturday 17th March. So he'll be missing the Abbey Hey away game to be played at Hyde United's ground. You might know that FC United is a bona fide Industrial & Provident Society, one member one vote, and it costs 10 GBP a year to be a member. Interesting choice, and I'll admit to bias being a member and like Andy come from sunny Stretford too. Supporters owned football clubs have made some headway in the last few years (there are 5 Football League Clubs including dear old Stockport County), now receive official UEFA backing (link), even a little Government money for Supporters Direct but clearly a long way to go.

Andy Walsh video interview on FCUM-TV (broadcast on Channel M last December)

Fairtrade #1

Here we are down our local Co-op (thankfully I've got one nearby) and it's 20% off all Fairtrade products for Fairtrade Fortnight. If only I brought my tasting notes from the last time we sampled these at our Co-op meeting on Fairtrade wine. Just get two bottles for now...I'll come back later in the week for some of the chocolate selection and maybe some fairtrade cake. co-opfairtrade
Good report in today's Guardian Saving St.Lucia, about Sainsbury's and Fairtrade bananas. It does make a difference to a fragile economy and it's all been driven by the consumer. If they don't sell then supermarkets will cull those product lines, so we have to continue buying them.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Live in Roma

On holiday in Roma but will be back for the Co-op Party AGM on Wednesday 28th February 2000h GMT. Been catching up on the comments (mmmm!) , and the mentions on other members blogs (thanks) . Nice to get away from it all, and if the Prodi government fell the other day you would never notice.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007


Pioneer Street Clayton
Pioneer Street Clayton
Two pictures from John Hacking, taken whilst out campaigning in Clayton ward, north Manchester. He gets about, and manages to take some pictures of an old co-op shop as well doing foot slogging to win votes. Click the pictures to get a larger view. Looks like it was built in 1908 by Droylsden Industrial Co-op Society. I like that crown on top. As John points out "I hope someone is recording all this because it'll be gone soon". You can read what our member John is up to at chorltonparklabour. Makes a good read following his "Ballots and Rain Tour of Manchester". Since then he's been to the Velodrome and Burnage, a tip of the hat to someone who is doing the real politics. What's that? Meeting people who are not politicians.
Google Map

Monday, 19 February 2007

Nomination Result

At tonight's meeting the following candidates were nominated : Naheed Arshad-Mather and Nargis Khan

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Nomination Meeting

Hardy Lane Co-operative Store
Withington Co-operative Party makes it's nomination for the Withington Constituency Labour Party prospective parliamentary candidate shortlist to-morrow night (19th Feb). We can choose from six who are Co-op Party members out of the nine candidates , and only members who are resident in the constituency can take part in the meeting. These are the rules we have to follow.
The result will be posted here, directly after the meeting finishes from the upstairs room on the right in the picture. Oh, the wonders of mobile phones to weblogs. Maybe even a photo. You can follow the Withington Selection events, results and make comments at Labouroflove.

The Supermarket That's Eating Britain

Monday 19th on TV Channel 4 : Dispatches at 200oh - 2100h.
The Supermarket that's eating the title.
"Tesco is Britain's favourite supermarket - 2,000 stores, 15 million customers a week, it has 25% of the UK's grocery trade. Dispatches shows how Tesco could soon become even bigger, and asks if this retail giant is abusing its power."

Discuss ? The Merger

Intercepted this email from one of our members about the United Co-op & Co-op Group amalgamation, but we can't escape from the word follows, with [ ] translating the short hand :

The basis of the merger is the synergy will generate millions of extra surpluses which will be reinvested to improve the Co-op offer in order to redress its long term decline. If things continue there wont be a Co-op sector in 10 years time. Our market share in food is 4.5% and falling.
Not sure what you mean by UC is unsuccessful in extending its operations into co-op franchising - it went through a highly successful merger with Yorkshire Society and now Sheffield Society and Leeds society have agreed to merger. Peter Marks who is the CE [ Chief Excutive ] of United will be CE of the amalgamated society - he is very good.
CG [ Co-operative roup ] realise they can learn a lot from UC [ United Co-op ] member relations and UC member relations will continue to go from strength to strength.
One of the advantages of having one society, although there are others still, is that we can control the brand - we are as good as our worst shop and some societies are not so good as others.
The Co-op Party does not have an official view - personally having attended a briefing meeting for regional council and member relations people on Thursday I think it is a positive move. But come to the meeting on 5th March and find out more and ask questions. It is going to be a very open process.
Maybe we can discuss at our AGM on 28th February.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

United Co-op / Co-op Group amalgamation

I was told to expect an announcement today by our Secretary, who has his ear into all things co-operative...

The Boards of United Co-op and Co-op Group have agreed to recommend amalgamation to members. Bob Burlton Co-op Group Chair and Bill Hoult United Co-op President said
'If approved by our members it will be the most far reaching merger in the history of the co-op movement in the UK, creating the world's largest consumer co-op, with a turnover of more than £9bn'.

There will be 3 meetings, and as a member in Central region of United Co-op you can attend any of the meetings below and vote for or against.

* Briefing meeting
Monday 5th March, Palace Hotel, Oxford Road, Manchester 7.30pm

* Meeting 1 in April where 2/3rds majority is needed.
Tuesday 17th April, Mechanics Institute, Manchester (tbc)
other dates in Wythenshawe, Salford, Stockport, Oldham, Rochdale

* Meeting 2 in May (at the same time as the AGM) a simple majority is needed.
Monday 21st May, Pump House Museum, Manchester (tbc)
other dates in Wythenshawe, Salford & etc.

"Assuming the amalgamation is passed by members it will happen THIS JULY!!!
So put these dates in your diary and dig out your pass book - this is history in the making!!!!" Paul Murphy, Chair Manchester Area Co-op Party.

Guardian Unlimited report

Friday, 16 February 2007

Coffee Politics

One of the stories I've been following is the trademark dispute between the Ethiopian coffee growers and Starbucks who are blocking the attempts to register the names.

"Ethiopian coffee growers sell their produce to Starbucks earned between 75 cents and 1.60 USD a pound on beans that Starbucks sold at up to 26 USD a pound." So much for Fairtrade - there isn't a lot of it around with the political and economic power of multi-nationals. Starbucks have offered to buy twice as much coffee next year, but no mention of paying a little more for it.
Coffee Politics

There is a film coming out in May called "Black Gold". It may get a screening in Manchester, it had a sold out showing at Westminster in an event organised by the Co-operative Party. The film is about the Ethiopian growers trying to get a fair price for their coffee. Black Gold Movie. Trailer available.

Also of interest is coffee grown on the other side of the world. The Finca Project which is
"the life and travels of a coffee bean as it is grown in Costa Rica and makes its way up to the United States to be consumed." It starts with the growers selling to the Coope Pueblos Cooperative.

For those of us who used to drink Nicaraguan coffee as part of the Nicaraguan Solidarity Campaign back in the 1980's there was good story in the Belfast Telegraph this week about how the coffee growers there have benefited from 35 years of fairtrade prices. Link. Fair Trade does make a difference.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

New co-op food store in town

It's not often a new co-op store opens but the announcement that 3,000 square foot of the big Co-operative Bank at Balloon Street / Corporation Street will be a food store came as a surprise.
The city centre has plenty of Sainsbury's and Tesco so it would be nice to see a non capitalist outlet in town. 3,000 square foot is the same size as Unicorn Co-operative Grocery in Chorlton.
Link - Manchester Evening News

Leech Should Go?

John Hacking one of our members and Labour / Co-op candidate in the City Council elections this May is having a bit of fun poll at Chorltonparklabour . The question is about John Leech MP "should he resign his Council seat? or should he stay?". Remember this is just for amusement . No actual Lib Dems were hurt in the making of this. When we checked the votes were all for loosing his second job as Councillor.

Cllr. Jim Battle

Cllr. Jim Battle (Deputy Leader of the City Council, and a member of Withington Co-op Party) at Hardy Lane Co-op Rooms. It's a short campaign meeting after the Parliamentary Nomination meeting of Chorlton Labour Party, Monday 12th February. Jim's a good speaker who holds your attention and he brought a positive message.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

February Meetings

Monday 19th February 2007 8pm
Hardy Lane Co-op Rooms
Parliamentary Nomination Meeting
(only for Co-op Party members who reside in Withington Constituency)

Wednesday 28th February 2007 8pm
Hardy Lane Co-op Rooms
Annual General Meeting
(open to all branch members)

28th February - 11th March
Fairtrade Fortnight

First Post

2007...the 90th year of the Co-operative Party. Hopefully we'll be a little more active. We've started a "wiki". For those who don't know a "wiki" is a website or similar online resource which allows users to add and edit content collectively. Wiki wiki” means "rapidly" in the Hawaiian language.

I was going to publish a booklet on the History of Withington Co-operative Party but after a few years I realised it would never happen. But an online edition is so much quicker and easier. When we've added photos and filled in the loads of gaps we could then make a PDF version suitable for printing.