A Special General Meeting (SGM) of Lakeland Dairies has approved changes to its governance structure, including a reduction in the number of elected Board members of the co-operative.
At the time of the merger of Lakeland Dairies and LacPatrick Dairies in 2019, it was agreed to review the rules of the new merged Society once the merger was completed. The merger received the resounding approval of the members of both co-operatives at that time.
The Board of the new Lakeland Dairies Co-operative Society went on to establish a Governance Sub-Committee to carry out a review of shareholder representation and governance arrangements in the new Society. This was chaired independently by Teddy Cashman, with six members of the current Board.
Following an extensive consultation process and deliberation over several months, the sub-committee reported to the Board with recommendations on new governance structures which the Board approved unanimously and recommended to members at the SGM.
In summary, following the approval of members at the SGM, the Society will adopt a new Rule book including the following modifications:
- The current 19 Electoral Areas will be replaced with 13 new Electoral Areas, based on milk supplier Members, with a broadly equal number of milk supplier members in each electoral area in the Republic of Ireland and each electoral area in Northern Ireland. Each Electoral Area will be represented by one Board member, with 8 Electoral Areas in the Republic of Ireland and 5 in Northern Ireland.
- Following from the merger in 2019, the current Board has 22 elected members and this will now be reduced to 13 (one per electoral area) by November this year, with the option to also co-opt up to 3 directors.
- To avoid wholesale changes to the important role of the Board, e.g., by running all 13 elections at once, the elections will instead be held on a phased basis. Eight of the new electoral areas currently with more than 1 Board member will hold elections in September and October this year and the remaining 5 new electoral areas will hold elections in September and October 2022.
Niall Matthews, Chairman of Lakeland Dairies said,
The review process that has now been concluded through our SGM will enhance our corporate governance and will ensure that our democratic and leadership structures will continue to serve the best interests of all our members. I believe that the changes voted for by our members will be very beneficial for our co-operative into the future. We will be keeping members fully updated on the electoral processes which will take place in due course.