Back in the day when you didn't need to join the ECF to play FIDE rated chess there were about 1,000 "Direct Members" of the ECF (the equivalent of today's Platinum membership). Although you got some benefits from this membership (free yearbook, reduced entry fee to tournaments and a free annual printout of the graded games you played are the ones I remember) you had to play in a tournament nearly every weekend for the membership to be cost effective - it was basically a way for players to make a voluntary financial contribution to the running of the ECF.
There was a move a year or so ago to take the "donation" part of the Platinum membership fee and direct it to the Chess Trust (as that would be tax efficient) but that was resisted by Platinum members at Council because (e.g. on my part) we would still like to see our money going towards supporting professional players playing at the Olympiad. There are now (I believe) just a couple of hundred Plainum members and I would like to see the ECF do a bit more to promote Platinum membership with an explanation of why it exists.
There is considerable scope for Council members to influence the direction of the ECF by proposing motions at Council. I have tried to promote this during my time as Chairman of Council and (while there are some exceptions) I think it represents an underused opportunity in general. While the Board have to listen to comments made by Council members twice a year it is only by voting on (and passing) motions that Council can have real influence.
Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.