Published on 19 April 2014
It’s not just Lord Myner’s proposed Co-op Group reforms that may be rejected by the Co-op Group Board, (P2, Guardian., 14.4.2014) but also co-op members’ proposals for community buy outs of the Group’s farms.
It is shocking that the Group has ditched its co-op values and principles by a distress sale of its farm estate, having ignored invitations from co-operators for community co-op buy outs of the farms.
The sale was only recently announced, and even though Savills have not had time to draw up farm particulars, we understand that bids are needed by the end of May. This means that the Co-op Group are selling off the family silver to wealthy people, hedge funds and speculators, and that the Co-op farm estate will be lost as a commonly owned asset.
So, we propose that Ursula Lidbetter, the Co-op Group chair, urgently convene a meeting to discuss how some of the farms can be bought at a fair price by co-operative community buy outs,
Martin Large, Biodynamic Land Trust
Charlotte Hollins, Fordhall Farm
Mark Walton, Shared Assets
Zoe Wangler, Ecological Land Co-op
Mark Simmonds, Co-operative Culture
Ruth West and Colin Tudge, Campaign for Real Farming
Neil Ravenscroft, Tablehurst Community Farm