The Midcounties Co-op board has rejected Lord Myners’ proposals to reform the scandal-hit Co-operative Group.
President of the Midcounties Co-operative Patrick Gray said the board had been unanimous in not supporting the ideas in a vote on Monday night.
Gray said the Midcounties board wants a solution that protects the role of Co-op members and the independent societies, which control about 22% of the votes at the meetings that will shortly be called to ratify Myners’ reforms.
Myners has proposed replacing the existing board structure with one similar to a public company and has put forward plans to create a national members council which would represent the views of the members. At present, the members dominate the boardroom.
But Myners’ reforms are not set to be fully fleshed out until the end of April after the group reveals its full-year results on April 17. The group is expected to have slumped to a loss of at least £2bn because of losses in the banking arm.
Myners was parachuted in to chair a review of the Co-operative Group roup after it was hit by a number of scandals which included a £1.5bn hole at the Co-op Bank and an alleged scandal involving former Co-op Bank chairman Paul Flowers.
The Group was plunged into greater turmoil when Co-op boss Euan Sutherland resigned last month after just 10 months in the role.
According to the Guardian, Gray said: “Our position is we are working towards and support the view that reform is needed. But if the group is simply presented with a menu that presents the Myners proposed position we will not support it.”
Seven regional boards between them control the rest of the votes and they have all met in the last four days, culminating with the north-west on Monday.
But Myners said: “The review will not be complete until the end of this month. In the meantime, we are meeting with the regional boards to explain the underlying thinking that will be detailed in our report. It would seem premature to vote until the report is complete.
“The review is independent. My role is akin to that of a doctor – to examine, diagnose and prescribe. It is up to the patient to decide whether to take the medicine.”
The Midcounties’ submission to the Myners team acknowledges mistakes in the past and contains fierce criticism of Peter Marks, the former Co-op Group boss who ran the mutual until Euan Sutherland was appointed 10 months ago. The submission rejects the idea that the chair needs to be independent and that the board needs to be smaller.
It describes the appointment of Marks, who retired last May after a four-decade career with the movement, as “more from political manoeuvring than appropriate process”. Marks has not commented since his retirement.