Here's my take on it. You'll probably get different answers depending on whether you speak to those junior organisers who work mostly or exclusively with lower level primary school age children, or to junior organisers who work mostly or exclusively with secondary school age or higher level primary school age children.
Before I continue, in principle I'm in favour of direct membership of the ECF.
Most (but not all) adults coming into competitive chess for the first time will do so through their local chess club. Typically, they'll come along for a few weeks to see if they like it. If they decide to stay they'll play in a couple of league matches in the lowest division of the local league to see how they get on.
Many adults play both league and tournament chess. Many adults only play league chess. In my club, Richmond, most of the stronger players (I'm the exception) play in tounaments, while many of the weaker players do not. There are not so many adults who only play tournament chess. (Perhaps someone can produce figures on this.)
Therefore it is entirely reasonable, for adult players, to have Bronze: League Chess, Silver: League and (lower level) Tournament Chess, Gold: League and FIDE-rated Tournament Chess.
Most juniors, however, come into competitive chess through tournaments, not through league chess. Almost all primary school age juniors only play tournament chess. The stronger juniors will join a club and play league chess as well. There will be very few juniors who only play league chess. Again, if someone could produce figures it would be helpful.
Therefore, there will be few, if any, juniors who will only require Bronze membership. I rather suspect that many of the 413 Junior Bronze members (or their parents) have misunderstood the system.
It would be logical for junior players to have Bronze: (lower level) Tournament Chess, Silver: League and (lower level) Tournament Chess, Gold: League and FIDE-rated Tournament Chess. There will be a perception among some junior organisers, and also some parents, that the current ECF membership system is unfair to juniors. An adult coming in at entry (Bronze) level is paying Â£13. A junior coming in at junior entry level (playing in a graded tournament) is also paying Â£13 (Silver level junior).
I am, as many of you will know, opposed to grading mass participation low level primary school events for several reasons. Partly for the reason mentioned above by Richard Bates: I am one of those who previously commented on the potential damage to the integrity of the grading system by grading events, especially very low level events, where almost all participants will be ungraded. My experience is that many participants in these events barely know how the pieces move, and that their actual playing strength would be some way below 0. What I've seen happen in the past is that kids get unrealistically high grades from scoring heavily in low level primary school events, and, when they take part in real competitions they perform well below their expectations. This can hardly do them any favours. If children don't know about grades then they won't be bothered if their games are not graded. If they're just casual players they won't understand them anyway.
Children of primary school age who are good enough to play in real tournaments and get real grades will almost always have supportive parents who, by and large, are prepared to pay money to enable their children to pursue and develop their interests. Paying an ECF membership fee will not be an issue for them: they will understand why and will be happy to do so. It is very hard for primary school age kids to get to this level without supportive parents.
The situation with secondary school age players is very different. I think we all agree that we want to see many more young people of secondary school age playing competitive chess. Neill's initiative in running schools tournaments seems to me like the best way of trying to encourage this. I think it's important that these tournaments are graded for several reasons. There are likely to be more players who already have a grade so the grades for new players will be more reliable. The players, being older, will have more understanding of what grades are about. The grades will also be useful for those players who decide, as a result of playing in a schools tournament, to take part in an individual tournament or join their local chess club. However, not all of these players will have supportive parents who will be prepared to pay their membership fee. The schools will also probably not be in a position to pay their pupils' membership fees.
So if the ECF want to encourage this sort of competition they really need to sort out a way of getting the games graded while not putting players off for financial reasons. Yes, it will be a loss leader. A 'Copper' membership for children playing in this sort of competition is a possibility. Perhaps a school membership is also a possibility: schools might be more prepared to pay something to join the ECF than to pay membership fees for pupils. Alienating junior chess organisers who are doing a vital job promoting chess within secondary schools is not a good idea.