Monday, 3 March 2014

Co-Op Trust: A Positive Petition

The following petition is available to sign in Gwythers, Simpsons & the library in Bishops Castle:

“We, the undersigned, note from Appendix B of the consultation documents that it is currently proposed that the community “Trust Forum” will only be allowed to elect 3 Trust Board Members compared to the 4 External Partner Trust Board Members. We would like to express our support for the proposed Co-Operative Trust but only if the proposals are amended so that External Partner Board Members can never outnumber Trust Forum Board Members.”

After just a couple of hours on Saturday, 5 of us managed to secure 100 signatures.

The diagram on the back of the petition, taken from the consultation materials, sets out the situation very clearly. The trust is made up of 3 distinct groups; Schools (of which there would be only 3 full members), each one entitled to 2 votes, Trust forum (made up of the diverse range of community interest groups), which is entitled to 3 votes in total & External partners (there’s no cap on numbers & the intention has been expressed to invite private industry) who are entitled to a vote each. Given the diagram states that one of the roles of the Trust forum is to hold the other two (schools & external partners) to account, that task is rendered impossible. With just 3 votes they’ll always be in the minority.

This is being sold as being based on Co-Op principles of equity, fairness & democracy. Amending the distribution of votes to reflect this is the first test. I flagged this inequity on the local radio this morning but the 2 heads seemed to be confusing the issue. They argued that school votes would ensure external votes could never have the upper hand.

The school vote is not part of the community, even in their own materials, so to conflate the two appears to be misleading & disingenuous, albeit unintentionally. Their separation is crucial, not least because, should a school, or schools become dependent on any private sponsors, their ability to vote against said sponsor is compromised. That’s one good reason why the Trust forum is separate & needs enough teeth to safeguard the interests of the community.

One of the heads said on the radio that this isn't about finances. The other one in the same interview indicated it was. At the public consultation meeting the heads announced that the local authority funding was drying up and the words "jump before we're pushed" were used. As one of you commented in my previous blog, the communications on this are as clear as mud.

Why do the heads continue to package schools as part of the "trust forum" & why the apparent resistance to concede that the Trust forum is stand alone & needs as many votes as external partners in order to be effective in safeguarding community interests?

Apologies to my overseas followers for the recent UK centric entries, although galvanising community democracy is a globally relevant endeavour.


Anonymous said...

Heard you on the radio & googled. You talk a lot of sense. I'll be signing the petition. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I texted the BBC to challenge the heads on the trustee anomolies but it wasn't read out?

Anonymous said...

I emailed in too but it didn't get read out either. I said that schools should have more governors that understand business & legal stuff like Tess. A number of governors I've spoken to about this hadn't understood the implications of the proposed model. They didn't know external partners had a vote each, that there was no limit on numbers & that they could be corporates. Scary.

Anonymous said...

Tess. You are a STAR. We are blessed to have you xxx

Anonymous said...

Governors are supposed to hold heads to account & question decisions. They're ultimately responsible if this backfires on the community.