Although the housing is owned by Lewisham Council, the co-op is controlled by its members, who all live on the estate, through a system of meetings and elected committees. General Meetings are open to all members and held quarterly, whilst the Management Committee meets monthly. There are also several subcommittees which meet in between times.
All adult residents (both tenants and leaseholders) of the Ewart Road Estate should be members of the co-operative, as it is important to the democratic principles of the co-op that all residents have an equal say in how their housing is run, and that no-one is disenfranchised. Normally you will have joined when you moved onto the estate (either as a tenant or leaseholder), However if you didn’t join when you first moved to the estate, don’t worry, you can sign up at the office at any time. When you join you receive a share certificate (which costs a nominal 5p) to signify your membership.
As a member you are entitled to attend General Meetings and vote on issues affecting the estate on a “one member — one vote” principle. You also get to elect the management committee at the AGM, and can stand for a committee post yourself (see below).
At least four General Meetings are held every year, usually in the Hall next to the office, but there may be other meetings on specific issues. The Annual General Meeting is held annually in September to elect the Management Committee and accept the audited accounts.
The Committee and its Sub-Committees
The Management Committee is elected from amongst the co-op’s members and works together with the co-op staff and in close co-operation with Lewisham Homes, the ALMO which was set up by Lewisham Council to manage most of its housing. Committee meetings are usually held on the first Tuesday of the month at 7pm in the community hall.
The Management Committee is served by a Chair, Treasurer and a Secretary and between 12 and 15 ordinary members. It has a number of supporting sub-committees which co-op members may also join:
- Finance/Repairs Sub-Committee
- Employment Sub-Committee
- Selection Sub-Committee (interviews housing applicants)
- Ewart Community Hall Committee
- Newsletter Sub-Committee
At least one member of each sub-committee sits on the main Management Committee, which ratifies the decisions of the sub-committees. Members of all committees are volunteers and receive no payment. Co-op members are welcome to join any of the committees.
How to join the Committee
The committee is always pleased to receive fresh blood so don’t hesitate to put yourself forward if you are interested in getting involved. The normal way to join is by standing for election at the AGM. You can fill in an application form in advance (available from the co-op office) or volunteer at the AGM itself. You will need to get the support of two other co-op members, one to propose you and one to ‘second’ the proposal, but this should not be a problem if you attend in person. (However if you are already a committee member, you don’t need a proposer/seconder to stand for re-election.)
It is also possible to join the Committee during the year by attending one of the Management Committee meetings, as the committee is permitted to co-opt people onto the committee if there are vacancies.