Which? reformer welcomes changes made at charity's AGM

The Consumers' Association agreed to three of six resolutions from a pressure group led by Patrick Taylor aimed at making the organisation more democratic and transparent

The coordinator of a pressure group calling for reform at the Consumers' Association, the charity behind the Which? publications and brand, has welcomed changes to the organisation that he says will make it more democratic and transparent.

At its annual general meeting last week, the association agreed to three of six resolutions put forward by the pressure group in the wake of controversy over a long-term incentive plan that awarded bonuses of £2.24m to four senior managers in the financial year to 30 June 2016.

Peter Vicary-Smith, group chief executive, received £819,000 under the scheme, which was scrapped this year.

Patrick Taylor, who coordinates the 400-strong pressure group, said it would be easier to oppose such lucrative incentive plans after the AGM voted in favour by 94 per cent of capping the proportion of ordinary members required to support resolutions being put to the AGM.

Previously, 5 per cent of ordinary members had to support a resolution before it could be put to the AGM.

Taylor said the old figure was too high and prevented dissenting voices from being heard. He said his group welcomed the change but would monitor the situation to ensure the cap was not set too high.

The meeting agreed to remove the cost to ordinary members of bringing a resolution to the AGM. Previously, anyone proposing a new resolution had to pay the costs of circulating voting forms, which Taylor described as a "big disincentive".

The AGM also voted to facilitate the creation of a new committee that will give ordinary members an enhanced role in governance.

Another change agreed at the meeting will allow audio recordings of meetings to be made. Taylor said written transcripts of some previous meetings "made you wonder if you were at the same meeting" and had omitted critical comments he'd made about the incentive plan.

Taylor said he was "pleased and relieved" the resolutions had been passed, but added he was "slightly bitter" the council had for so long opposed change, forcing the pressure group to incur costs of about £5,000.

"If the AGM delivers what it promised, I will be happy," he said. "If it doesn't, or the council drags its heels, I won't. It's up to it to make it happen."

A Which? spokesman said: "A number of resolutions were passed this year that should have a positive impact on our governance for years to come.

"We appreciate the commitment our ordinary members show to our organisation, and the resolutions that were passed by our ordinary members have introduced a number of ways for them to engage with us more easily and frequently in the future."

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