Co-op News September 2021

The September edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at Principle 6 - co-operation among co-ops: including a look at how co-ops are coming together to find solutions to the environmental challenges facing the world - whether that means stepping up the war on plastic waste in the UK or helping the clean energy transition in Croatia. We look at efforts to provide co-op housing and community pubs, and speak to Lord Victor Adebowale – Co-op Group director and chair of Social Enterprise UK - about co-operation with other socially led sectors. And there's a look at the co-op environment that helped nurture US Olympian Dalilah Muhammad.

The September edition of Co-op News: connecting, challenging and championing the global co-operative movement. This issue we look at Principle 6 - co-operation among co-ops: including a look at how co-ops are coming together to find solutions to the environmental challenges facing the world - whether that means stepping up the war on plastic waste in the UK or helping the clean energy transition in Croatia. We look at efforts to provide co-op housing and community pubs, and speak to Lord Victor Adebowale – Co-op Group director and chair of Social Enterprise UK - about co-operation with other socially led sectors. And there's a look at the co-op environment that helped nurture US Olympian Dalilah Muhammad.


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SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />



FUTURE<br />

Plus … <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s respond<br />

to the IPCC climate report<br />

... The co-<strong>op</strong> beginnings<br />

of a US Olympian ... Meet:<br />

Nepal’s Om Devi Malla ...<br />

Celebrating 150 years of<br />

your <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong><br />

ISSN 0009-9821<br />

770009 982010<br />

01<br />

£4.20<br />


Telling co-<strong>op</strong>erative stories for 150 years<br />


SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 3<br />

150 years of your<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong><br />




Holyoake House, Hanover Street,<br />

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Rebecca Harvey | rebecca@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Anca Voinea | anca@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Miles Hadfield | miles@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

DESIGN<br />

Andy Bellis | andy@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />


Elaine Dean (chair); David Paterson<br />

(vice-chair); Sofygil Crew; Victoria<br />

Green; Tim Hartley; Phil Hartwell;<br />

Gillian Lonergan; Beverley Perkins;<br />

Shaz Rahman; Lesley Reznicek<br />

Secretary: Richard Bickle<br />

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@co<strong>op</strong>news<br />

co<strong>op</strong>erativenews<br />

On 2 <strong>September</strong> 1871, the first issue of The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong> was published,<br />

as “A Record of Industrial, Political, Humanitarian, and Educational Progress”.<br />

“What is <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration?” (p46-47)<br />

150 years later we are still asking – and answering – that question. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

are hugely diverse. They are a tool. And as with any tool, the way they are used<br />

is largely up to the pe<strong>op</strong>le who wield them. But all co-<strong>op</strong>eratives are grounded in<br />

the set of values and principles that guide us within a framework of democracy,<br />

membership and shared wealth. This issue we are looking at principle 6 – co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

among co-<strong>op</strong>erative – increasingly important as the magnitude of<br />

crises facing the world make it clear they cannot be faced alone.<br />

This was made abundantly clear in the IPPC’s climate report, which highlighted<br />

how climate change is threatening every aspect of our lives. To address this, “co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

and collaboration will be key,” says Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>’s Gemma Lacey.<br />

“By sharing our plans, progress and solutions we can use our collective voice<br />

and actions to help drive the wide-scale change needed” (p26-29). In Croatia,<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s are helping with the country’s coal phase-out (p30-31) and in the UK,<br />

independent retail co-<strong>op</strong>s have signed up to the soft plastic collection scheme,<br />

launched by the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group in July (p7).<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives know they should work with each other; but what about working<br />

with other ‘for-purpose’ organisations? Lord Victor Adebowale – <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group<br />

director and chair of Social Enterprise UK – firmly believes the co-<strong>op</strong> movement<br />

needs “to spend less time naval-gazing and more time holding hands” with<br />

other types of organisational models (p36-37).<br />

This issue we also look at how co-<strong>op</strong>eratives offer supportive environments in<br />

different sectors (such as housing, p32-33, and community pubs, p34-45) and for<br />

individual pe<strong>op</strong>le (such as American 400m hurdler Dalilah Muhammad, p44-45).<br />

But we also look at how mutuality can go wrong: in August, staff at an influential<br />

left-wing Current Affairs magazine in the US claim they were fired for trying to<br />

organise into a workers co-<strong>op</strong>erative (p42-43); and in Canada, Economical<br />

Mutual Insurance has demutualised after 145 years – a move for which ICMIF’s<br />

Shaun Tarbuck says there “was no business case” (p40-41).<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 pandemic has meant that any in-person celebrations for our 150th<br />

anniversary are on hold, but we are proud to continue sharing co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

stories from around the world with our members, readers and the wider public.<br />

Thank you for coming on this journey with us. We are looking forward to seeing<br />

where we go next.<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong> is printed using vegetable oil-based<br />

inks on 80% recycled paper (with 60% from post-consumer<br />

waste) with the remaining 20% produced from FSC or PEFC<br />

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ISSN 0009-9821<br />

9 770009 982010<br />

4 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

01<br />



The UK’s independent retail co-<strong>op</strong>s have<br />

signed up to the Group’s soft plastic<br />

collection scheme (p7); Plans under way<br />

for a Pe<strong>op</strong>le’s Pub Partnership (p34-35);<br />

Promoting Principle 6 in the USA<br />

(p38-39); Dalilah Muhammad (p44-45);<br />

Om Devi Malla (p22-23)<br />

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />



FUTURE<br />

Plus … <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s respond<br />

to the IPCC climate report<br />

... The co-<strong>op</strong> beginnings<br />

of a US Olympian ... Meet:<br />

Nepal’s Om Devi Malla ...<br />

Celebrating 150 years of<br />

your <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong><br />

£4.20<br />

www.thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

COVER: Lord Victor Adebowale<br />

shares his thoughts on Principle<br />

6 from a co-<strong>op</strong>erative and social<br />

enterprise perspective<br />

Read more: p36-37<br />

22-23 MEET … OM DEVI MALLA<br />

Vice chair of Nepal’s co-<strong>op</strong> federation and<br />

ICA global board member<br />


What does the report mean for<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in different sectors?<br />

30-39 PRINCIPLE 6<br />

The importance of co-<strong>op</strong>eration among<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s – and with other organisations<br />


The community co-<strong>op</strong>s encouraging<br />

citizens to get involved in clean<br />

energy<br />


SEASALT Housing <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has drawn on<br />

the support of the wider movement<br />


Plans under way for a national,<br />

community-owned pub organisation<br />


The chair of Social Enterprise UK and<br />

director of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group on why co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

and social enterprises should work<br />

better together<br />

38-39 PRINCIPLE 6 IN THE USA<br />

NCBA CLUSA explores ways to drive<br />

Principle 6 in the United States<br />

40-41 END OF THE ROAD FOR<br />


Lessons from the demutualisation of the<br />

145 year old mutual<br />

42-43 A CLASH OF VALUES<br />

Staff claim they were fired for trying to<br />

organise into a workers’ co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />


The Olympian brought up in the Rochdale<br />

Village <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> in Queens, NYC<br />

46-47 150 YEARS OF CO-OP NEWS<br />

A look back at the past century and a half<br />

of your <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong><br />


5-13 UK updates<br />

14-21 Global updates<br />

24 Letters and obituary<br />

48 Reviews<br />

50 Events

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 5<br />

NEWS<br />

RETAIL<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group chief warns<br />

grocery shortages are<br />

the worst he’s seen<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group CEO Steve Murrells has<br />

warned that supply disruptions from<br />

Brexit and <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 are causing the worst<br />

food shortages he has seen.<br />

He told the Times that some ranges were<br />

being reduced because the industry is<br />

struggling to get supplies to sh<strong>op</strong>s, thanks<br />

to driver and other labour shortages from<br />

Brexit migration rules and <strong>Co</strong>vid-19.<br />

Mr Murrells made his comments after<br />

widespread reports of stores and fast food<br />

restaurants running short of supplies,<br />

as labour shortages hit fruit picking and<br />

meat processing capacity, as well as HGV<br />

drivers to transport goods.<br />

McDonald’s hit the headlines after it<br />

removed milkshakes from its menu at<br />

1,250 outlets across Britain, while Nando’s<br />

was forced to temporarily close 50<br />

restaurants because of poultry shortages.<br />

Murrells said the crisis was the result of<br />

“Brexit and issues caused by <strong>Co</strong>vid”.<br />

The Group is retraining staff as lorry<br />

drivers to make up for the shortfall – with<br />

the haulage industry losing an estimated<br />

100,000 overall, including 8,000 EU<br />

nationals who have left the UK.<br />

Mr Murrells’ comments echo those<br />

of other industry figures, with Iceland<br />

managing director Richard Walker<br />

warning that the current situation could<br />

affect this year’s Christmas celebrations.<br />

He told Radio 4’s Today programme that<br />

lorry drivers should be added to the<br />

government’s skilled workers list to help<br />

recruit pe<strong>op</strong>le from overseas.<br />

For the agriculture sector, the picture<br />

is more mixed. A spokesperson for<br />

Openfield, the Lincolnshire-based grain<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>, said it has not yet had any problems<br />

as it goes through its harvest time.<br />

“We haven’t seen any significant<br />

disruption and our haulage fleet<br />

continues to <strong>op</strong>erate normally with a full<br />

complement of drivers.”<br />

But at Scottish farm co-<strong>op</strong> body SAOS<br />

(Scottish Agricultural Organisation<br />

Society), supply chain devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

director Alan Stevenson said: “Labour<br />

resource continues to be a concern for the<br />

sector in terms of processing capacity and<br />

having the right skills available.<br />

“In addition, we are keeping a close<br />

watch on the lorry driver situation as<br />

we approach harvest time where there<br />

is a heavy demand for their services at a<br />

critical point for the farming industry.<br />

“Being part of a co-<strong>op</strong> is a great help in<br />

sharing risk and bringing the <strong>op</strong>erational<br />

elements together to plan ahead as much<br />

as possible. It still may prove challenging<br />

bearing in mind weather factors will come<br />

into the equation as well.”<br />

SAOS has also echoed calls from the<br />

National Farmers Union for scrutiny of<br />

post-Brexit trade deals, such as the one<br />

recently signed with Australia.<br />

Chief executive Tim Bailey said: “We<br />

believe that any and every deal should be<br />

fully scrutinised. Only farming systems<br />

demonstrably <strong>op</strong>erating to equivalent<br />

high standards of food safety, animal<br />

health and welfare and environmental<br />

protection should gain free trade access to<br />

our markets.”<br />

A spokesperson for CQLP, the livestock<br />

marketing co-<strong>op</strong> based in south-west<br />

England, said there had been no logistics<br />

disruption – but echoed concerns over the<br />

Australia deal.<br />

“Farmers work really hard to overcome<br />

lots of challenges within their industry<br />

and are always striving to do things better;<br />

our welfare standards are very stringent<br />

and about to become even more so and a<br />

lot of farmers feel this deal would be very<br />

dangerous for UK agriculture as firstly<br />

Australia’s farmers are allowed to use<br />

some banned products such as growth<br />

promoters, feed additives and pesticides<br />

which doesn’t allow a level playing<br />

field and it could encourage other large<br />

food producing nations to push for their<br />

produce to be allowed onto our market.<br />

Thankfully trade in meat is currently very<br />

small between ourselves and Australia<br />

but if a tariff free deal were to happen it<br />

could threaten our whole industry.<br />

“We need a much stricter food labelling<br />

system so consumers are informed of<br />

their choices. The UK government have<br />

been pushing high welfare and food<br />

standards onto our industry for years and<br />

allowing large volumes of substandard/<br />

cheaper products on to our market would<br />

be very damaging.”

6 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

RETAIL<br />

Midcounties works with local councils to fight school holiday hunger<br />

Midcounties <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has partnered with<br />

three local councils to help feed more<br />

than 7,000 children over the summer<br />

holidays as part of its mission to tackle<br />

food poverty.<br />

The society has joined forces with<br />

Dudley CVS and Dudley, Walsall and<br />

Shr<strong>op</strong>shire councils to create meal boxes<br />

to feed a family of four for up to four<br />

nights, and deliver them to selected<br />

homes, holiday clubs and libraries across<br />

their communities on a weekly basis.<br />

The meals have been designed in<br />

partnership with qualified nutritionist<br />

and in-store chef Judy Cheyne, who has<br />

also devel<strong>op</strong>ed recipe cards and videos<br />

that the children can follow at home.<br />

The initiative follows a series of<br />

commitments from Midcounties to help<br />

p Food from the society ready for distribution<br />

deliver food justice, including a food bank<br />

fund that raised more than £50K during<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 crisis, joining forces with<br />

other co-<strong>op</strong>s to campaign for food justice,<br />

becoming a member of Marcus Rashford’s<br />

Child Food Poverty Taskforce, and<br />

continuing to provide essential support to<br />

food banks across its communities.<br />

Group CEO Phil Ponsonby said: “Food<br />

justice is a real issue and we’re extremely<br />

passionate about driving change to ensure<br />

that no one is left behind. In the current<br />

climate, it’s all too easy for families<br />

experiencing financial difficulties to fall<br />

into food poverty, and we’re committed<br />

to being a leading part of a movement to<br />

st<strong>op</strong> that.<br />

“By working together as a society, with<br />

our members, local stakeholders, and likeminded<br />

organisations and individuals,<br />

we know we can make a difference. I’m<br />

extremely proud that these councils have<br />

come to us as the partner on this initiative,<br />

and we’re delighted we are able to help.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group adds<br />

OneBanks kiosks to<br />

three Scottish stores<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group has introduced banking<br />

kiosks from OneBanks to three of its stores<br />

in Scotland.<br />

OneBanks is a community banking<br />

service which offers banking services to<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le in areas where there are no longer<br />

any bank branches, or want face-to-face<br />

services because they have been left behind<br />

by the move to digital. It offers services no<br />

matter who pe<strong>op</strong>le bank with.<br />

Services are already on offer at the<br />

Group’s Denny store, in Falkirk, and a<br />

new kiosk at its convenience store in<br />

Kilwinning, in the west of Scotland, will<br />

enable customers to deposit and withdraw<br />

notes and coins, and manage payments<br />

for utilities and other bills.<br />

An additional kiosk in Lochgelly, Fife, is<br />

also planned for the coming weeks.<br />

The Kilwinning trial will feature an<br />

updated kiosk design which is wheelchair<br />

compatible, with team members equipped<br />

and trained to support those who are hard<br />

of hearing through the SignLive app.<br />

Kilwinning will also test out a new<br />

facility, devel<strong>op</strong>ed in partnership with<br />

G4S, which means customers can deposit<br />

p OneBanks' team at the Denny kiosk<br />

coins as well as notes, and manage<br />

payments for utilities and other bills. The<br />

facility has a touch screen which allows<br />

customers to buy goods and services from<br />

online providers such as Amazon using<br />

cash, and receive change in coins.<br />

Mark Matthews, director of innovation<br />

and formats at the Group, said: “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is<br />

committed to connecting communities and<br />

<strong>op</strong>erating at the heart of local life. We are<br />

working with partners to devel<strong>op</strong> added<br />

services and choice, finding innovative<br />

ways to expand access to products and<br />

services locally, and create a compelling<br />

offer to serve our members and customers.”<br />

The OneBanks’ shared branch concept<br />

received a boost in May when UK Finance<br />

and the largest retail banks and building<br />

societies launched the Access to Cash<br />

Action Group, examining ways that<br />

businesses and individuals can continue<br />

to use cash for everyday banking. As<br />

part of its existing co-<strong>op</strong>eration with the<br />

banks’ <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Access to Cash Pilots,<br />

OneBanks is providing data to feed into<br />

the design of possible models that will<br />

meet that objective.<br />

Services are provided free to customers,<br />

whichever bank they use. OneBanks says<br />

the Denny kiosk has proven p<strong>op</strong>ular with<br />

small businesses because it has enabled<br />

them to avoid a round trip of nearly 15<br />

miles to their nearest <strong>op</strong>en bank branch to<br />

bank their cash takings.

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 7<br />


Retail co-<strong>op</strong>s sign up to soft plastic collection scheme<br />

p The recycling scheme offers a way forward for the crisis of plastic pollution<br />

Independent retail co-<strong>op</strong>s in the UK have<br />

signed up to the plastic collection scheme,<br />

launched by the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group at the start<br />

of last month.<br />

The scheme sees the co-<strong>op</strong>s install<br />

collection points at selected stores, where<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le can recycle film and soft plastics,<br />

items that are currently not collected by<br />

all council services.<br />

The collection points will allow pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

to deposit items such as crisp packets,<br />

sweet wrappers, plastic film, pet food<br />

pouches, bread bags and other plastic<br />

bags, which will then be backhauled via<br />

the retailers’ distribution networks and<br />

responsibly recycled.<br />

Estimates from WRAP suggest that just<br />

6% of plastic bags and wrapping from UK<br />

households is recycled each year, while<br />

(by weight) it makes up around a fifth of<br />

all plastic packaging.<br />

Items that cannot be recycled include<br />

hard plastics, plastic bottles, plastic trays<br />

and no compostable elements, however<br />

recycling services for these items are<br />

widely available.<br />

Luke Olly, energy and environment<br />

lead, at Central England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> said: “As<br />

a co-<strong>op</strong>erative, we have a responsibility<br />

to champion sustainability for the good<br />

of our members, consumers and local<br />

communities and plastics is at the<br />

forefront of these efforts.<br />

“We have worked with other retail<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s to provide a network of instore<br />

collection points for film and soft<br />

plastics. Providing collection points<br />

specifically for these types of plastics will<br />

enable customers to easily recycle items<br />

that are currently not collected through<br />

council services, while doing this in<br />

a co-<strong>op</strong>erative manner means all the<br />

communities the co-<strong>op</strong> serves can benefit<br />

from this process, helping to provide a<br />

nationwide solution.<br />

“We h<strong>op</strong>e our customers and members<br />

will make use of the new collection<br />

points and join us in our push to recycle<br />

together.”<br />

Mike Pickering, co-<strong>op</strong>erative social<br />

responsibility manager at Midcounties,<br />

said: “As a society, we’re committed to<br />

making change and encouraging our<br />

members and customers to work with<br />

us to build a better environment for our<br />

future, and recycling is a big part of that.<br />

“We know that many of our customers<br />

and members want to do even more than<br />

they already are to help the planet, and<br />

the new recycling collection points are a<br />

great, convenient solution to help them.”<br />

Other co-<strong>op</strong>s introducing the scheme<br />

include Chelmsford Star, East of England,<br />

Lincolnshire and Heart of England.<br />

Heart of England says plastic can be<br />

taken to its stores in Hinckley, Long<br />

Lawford, Wellesbourne, Balsall <strong>Co</strong>mmon,<br />

and Galley <strong>Co</strong>mmon, Cedar Road and<br />

Attleborough in Nuneaton, and Allesley<br />

Old Road and Earlsdon in <strong>Co</strong>ventry.<br />

Steve Browne, general manager of<br />

the society’s food division, said: “The<br />

environment is an increasingly common<br />

area of concern among our members<br />

and customers. This new scheme will<br />

help make a significant impact. Already<br />

a great many of our stores offer packagefree<br />

zones where customers use their<br />

own refillable containers to buy certain<br />

products, and our water stations too –<br />

allowing customers to refill their own<br />

water bottles – are also a huge hit.”<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has also told the <strong>News</strong><br />

it is planning to trial it.

8 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

RETAIL<br />

Scotmid launches intervention scheme to get pe<strong>op</strong>le out of crime<br />

A collaborative pilot programme to<br />

help pe<strong>op</strong>le involved in crime to make<br />

positive life changes has been launched<br />

by Scotmid <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>.<br />

Project RISE (Recovering in a<br />

Supported Environment), which will be<br />

piloted in Leith, has been designed to<br />

intervene and support local pe<strong>op</strong>le by<br />

encouraging them to avoid potential<br />

criminal situations, suggesting<br />

alternative choices and signposting<br />

individuals to support services.<br />

It will work in partnership with several<br />

organisations including Cyrenians,<br />

Turning Point, Link-Up, <strong>Co</strong>nnecting<br />

Circles and Police Scotland.<br />

Scotmid h<strong>op</strong>es to roll the programme<br />

out across other areas of the city, where<br />

additional resources and support would<br />

help make a difference.<br />

Nick McGuirk, project manager for the<br />

scheme, said: “As a retailer based in the<br />

heart of our communities, we are in a<br />

fortunate position to be able to identify<br />

and reach some of the most vulnerable<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le in our local areas. We’re pleased to<br />

work collaboratively with some fantastic<br />

charities to ensure we can support as<br />

many pe<strong>op</strong>le as possible, helping them<br />

to make more positive life choices.”<br />

Carmen McShane, Scotland service<br />

manager of Turning Point, said: “It<br />

has never been so important to make<br />

mainstream services more accessible for<br />

those who suffer from alcohol and other<br />

drug use.<br />

“Accessing support and treatment<br />

can be a protective factor in reducing<br />

overdose, therefore, outreach work in<br />

Leith, and other local communities<br />

like this, is vital if we want to prevent<br />

drug-related deaths. I’m so pleased to<br />

work with Scotmid, <strong>Co</strong>nnecting Circles,<br />

Cyrenians and Link Up in this initiative<br />

to deliver the support to pe<strong>op</strong>le in our<br />

community who need it.”<br />

A spokesperson at Police Scotland<br />

said: “Police Scotland is looking forward<br />

to working alongside our partners<br />

in this pilot programme, designed to<br />

make positive changes for those who<br />

require support and help. We h<strong>op</strong>e the<br />

programme will expand its work to<br />

other areas, so that pe<strong>op</strong>le can avoid<br />

potentially dangerous circumstances,<br />

whilst flourishing in their communities.”<br />

In other news from Scotmid, the<br />

society has joined up with devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

agency Scottish Enterprise to invest in<br />

the Alcoholic Water <strong>Co</strong>mpany, a hard<br />

seltzer business set up by a team of<br />

drinks industry entrepreneurs.<br />

The business, set up in 2019, wants to<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> the “world’s most sought after<br />

portfolio of hard seltzers” – alcoholic<br />

flavoured waters. It is a collaboration<br />

between Glasgow-based Start-Up Drinks<br />

Lab and London’s Whitelabel Group.<br />

Scotmid has purchased a minority<br />

stake, and says it will bring trade<br />

expertise from its grocery network,<br />

alongside mentoring and business<br />

support. CEO John Brodie said: “This is<br />

a fast growing sector of the market and<br />

there are <strong>op</strong>portunities to establish a<br />

brand at the premium end.”<br />

RETAIL<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> continues efforts to help young pe<strong>op</strong>le off the dole<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is taking its third cohort of<br />

Kickstarters – 16 to 24 year olds at risk of<br />

long-term unemployment – next month.<br />

The government scheme was set up to<br />

help young pe<strong>op</strong>le off universal credit and<br />

the new recruits will bring the number on<br />

placement at Southern to nearly 40.<br />

The placements are spread across the<br />

independent retail co-<strong>op</strong>’s head office in<br />

Portsmouth and a number of its food and<br />

funeral sites.<br />

Sarah Kavanagh, the society’s business<br />

transformation and HR director, said:<br />

“Unemployment has been higher in<br />

younger age groups for some time and<br />

unfortunately this has been exacerbated<br />

by the pandemic. It is clear to us that they<br />

need additional help now to get back into<br />

work or to take the first step toward full<br />

time employment.<br />

“The Kickstart Scheme means we look<br />

for pe<strong>op</strong>le aged 16 to 24, with the right<br />

attitude, and give them the <strong>op</strong>portunity to<br />

learn new skills while being paid.<br />

“We expected it to take a bit of time<br />

for some to find their feet and get into<br />

the routine of work but, after about three<br />

weeks, we have been getting some great<br />

feedback. One manager described their<br />

new starter as ‘100% amazing’, ‘flexible,<br />

keen and willing to try anything’.”<br />

The placements are funded by the<br />

Government for 25 hours per week for six<br />

months and referrals are made on to the<br />

scheme via local Jobcentres.<br />

The job placements provide <strong>op</strong>portunities<br />

to young pe<strong>op</strong>le who may have been<br />

overlooked before due to lack of experience.<br />

Southern’s programme is also giving<br />

young adults a chance to gain a Level<br />

One Certificate in Employability Skills at<br />

Havant & South Downs <strong>Co</strong>llege.

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 9<br />

AWARDS<br />

Finalists named for the Social Business Wales Awards<br />

recognising those organisations which<br />

have pivoted, grown and thrived in these<br />

most challenging conditions.<br />

“We wish all the businesses shortlisted<br />

the best of luck at the awards. We h<strong>op</strong>e<br />

that, whatever the outcome, their success<br />

will inspire a generation of future social<br />

entrepreneurs.”<br />

The full list of categories and shortlisted<br />

finalists is as follows<br />

Social Enterprise of the Year<br />

• Creating Enterprise<br />

• The <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Impact Initiative<br />

• Therapeutic Activities Group CIC<br />

• One to Watch<br />

Wales <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Centre has unveiled<br />

the list of finalists for this year’s Social<br />

Business Wales Awards.<br />

This year there are two headline<br />

categories – Wales Social Enterprise<br />

of the Year, which looks for excellent<br />

vision and strategic direction as well as a<br />

clearly evidenced social, environmental<br />

and community impact, and Wales<br />

One to Watch, which looks for new and<br />

innovative social enterprises with an<br />

impressive initial impact and strong<br />

vision for the future.<br />

The other categories are Tech for Good;<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Impact; and Social Enterprise<br />

Team of the Year.<br />

The Social Business Wales Awards are<br />

being held virtually for the first time on<br />

5 October. The awards, which have run<br />

since 2010, are part of the Social Business<br />

Wales project which is funded by Welsh<br />

government and the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean Regional<br />

Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Fund.<br />

Derek Walker, CEO of Wales <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Centre and delivery lead<br />

for the Social Business Wales project,<br />

said: “Trading conditions have been<br />

significantly disrupted for a lot of<br />

businesses over the last 18 months, so<br />

for this year’s awards we are looking<br />

to celebrate the resilience and the<br />

entrepreneurial spirit of the social<br />

business sector.<br />

“The <strong>2021</strong> awards will also be a moment<br />

to celebrate the incredible contributions<br />

made by social businesses in Wales,<br />

Amathanon CIC (Carmarthen Food)<br />

• Drosi Bikes<br />

• Prom Ally<br />

• Tech for Good: Technology Social<br />

Enterprise<br />

Cardiff Cleaning Services (APP UK)<br />

• Empower – Be the Change<br />

• Denbighshire Music <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

• <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Impact<br />

PTAWA Enterprises Ltd<br />

• Green Willow Funerals Ltd<br />

• Iorwerth Arms<br />

• Glyn Wylfa<br />

•<br />

Social Enterprise Team of the Year<br />

• Creating Enterprise<br />

• Empower Be The Change<br />

• Llangefni Town Football Club<br />


Government launches £4m fund for community housing<br />

The Ministry of Housing, <strong>Co</strong>mmunities<br />

and Local Government (MHCLG) has<br />

made £4m worth of grants available to<br />

eligible community organisations.<br />

The scheme, which runs in England<br />

(outside Greater London), is funded<br />

through the <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Housing Fund<br />

Revenue Programme <strong>2021</strong>/22. It will help<br />

cover the revenue costs of project-specific<br />

activities to support the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of<br />

community-led housing pr<strong>op</strong>osals.<br />

The programme is managed by<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Led Homes, a partnership<br />

of four leading community led housing<br />

organisations: <strong>Co</strong>nfederation of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Housing, Locality, National<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity Land Trust Network and UK<br />

<strong>Co</strong>housing Network.<br />

It is aimed at schemes which can prove<br />

their deliverability and are at the later<br />

stages of pre-devel<strong>op</strong>ment, and will fund<br />

pre-devel<strong>op</strong>ment work so that schemes<br />

can complete the work required to<br />

progress the scheme towards:<br />

• submitting a planning application,<br />

and/or<br />

• submitting a capital funding bid, and/o<br />

• getting to start on site.<br />

The pre-devel<strong>op</strong>ment work funded<br />

must be completed by the end of March<br />

2022 so applications are recommended to<br />

be made as soon as possible.<br />

MHCLG adds that the programme will<br />

not be suitable for groups who are just<br />

forming and need start-up support, or<br />

schemes that are at an early stage of predevel<strong>op</strong>ment.<br />

• Email grants@communityledhomes.org.<br />

uk or visit bit.ly/3zkQM6V

10 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>llege awards honorary fellowship to Dr Cilla Ross<br />

Dr Cilla Ross has received an honorary<br />

fellowship award from the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>Co</strong>llege, an organisation she joined six<br />

years ago as vice principal.<br />

Dr Ross is the first woman to be awarded<br />

an honorary fellowship in the <strong>Co</strong>llege’s<br />

history. She was appointed its first ever<br />

female principal in 2019, and has recently<br />

stepped down from the role.<br />

At the <strong>Co</strong>llege, she worked across<br />

multiple areas including teaching,<br />

learning and global research, leading on<br />

both co-<strong>op</strong>erative higher education and<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>erative university project. As a<br />

fellow of the <strong>Co</strong>llege, she will continue<br />

to work with the education co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

that the <strong>Co</strong>llege has helped to establish.<br />

In 2019, she sat on the Centenary<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmission on Adult Education, and has<br />

recently been appointed to a three-year<br />

honorary professorship in co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

education at the University of Nottingham.<br />

Dr Ross said: “I am truly honoured by<br />

this award. It has been a privilege being a<br />

custodian and steward of the <strong>Co</strong>llege and<br />

in helping to ready it for its future.<br />

“The <strong>Co</strong>llege has a magnificent record<br />

in empowering pe<strong>op</strong>le through education<br />

and this imperative is as critical as ever.<br />

As a fellow, I will contribute in any way I<br />

can to support the <strong>Co</strong>llege’s commitment<br />

to relevant, high quality and distinctive<br />

learning that has social justice at its heart.”<br />

Jon Nott, chair of the <strong>Co</strong>llege trustees,<br />

said: “Cilla has led the <strong>Co</strong>llege through a<br />

period of incredible external challenges<br />

and internal transformation. She moves<br />

into her new role having provided a strong<br />

academic and organisational platform<br />

from which the new team can build and<br />

grow. I’m delighted that Cilla will be able<br />

to continue her commitment to co-<strong>op</strong><br />

learning through this fellowship.”<br />

Neil Calvert, CEO and principal of the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>llege, added: “Cilla’s contribution<br />

to the work of the <strong>Co</strong>llege cannot be<br />

underestimated, and it is only right that<br />

it is being recognised by this award. Her<br />

influence will be sadly missed in our dayto-day<br />

working, but I am grateful that we<br />

will be able to retain our links with her<br />

through the honorary fellowship.”<br />


Ecology CEO Paul Ellis to step down after 40 years at the building society<br />

Ecology Building Society CEO Paul Ellis is<br />

step down after 40 years working for the<br />

ethical lender.<br />

He spent the last 26 years of his time<br />

with Ecology in the t<strong>op</strong> job, making him<br />

the longest-serving CEO in the sector.<br />

During this time, he has overseen an<br />

increase in assets from £18m to £226m at<br />

the end of 2020.<br />

Ecology says Mr Ellis leaves it in a<br />

good position, with its strongest ever<br />

pipeline of lending and a strong interest<br />

in its sustainable lending solutions. It<br />

has started the recruitment process for<br />

a replacement, with Mr Ellis expected to<br />

remain in post until 2022 to support the<br />

handover process.<br />

Mr Ellis said: “I have had the great<br />

good fortune to work for an organisation<br />

whose principles and reason for being I<br />

passionately support.<br />

“Indeed, with Ecology I have had the<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to demonstrate how balance<br />

sheet dynamics can be constructed<br />

in order to pursue the provision of<br />

sustainable finance. Nothing would have<br />

been possible without our members and<br />

wider stakeholders in the green building<br />

community, and I am proud to have met so<br />

many passionate pe<strong>op</strong>le and experienced<br />

so many exciting projects. I will be leaving<br />

Ecology with fantastic memories to<br />

continue the fight for a sustainable future<br />

through other means.<br />

Ecology board chair Steve Round<br />

said: “I would like to thank Paul, who<br />

will be stepping down after 40 years<br />

of involvement with Ecology, for his<br />

extraordinary contributions to both the<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment of the society, as a member,<br />

then director and latterly CEO as well as<br />

the wider values-based banking, social<br />

and environmental finance, and green<br />

building community.<br />

“Throughout that time his unwavering<br />

commitment to our founding members’<br />

vision of applying ecological principles<br />

to finance to deliver a sustainable future<br />

has guided the society from its early<br />

pioneering activity to our current position<br />

as a leading exponent of green finance.”

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 11<br />

RETAIL<br />

Insight expert and<br />

chef hired to drive new<br />

innovation at Group<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group has announced a new<br />

role – head of insight and research – as<br />

part of ongoing growth to its data, digital<br />

and loyalty team.<br />

The move, which follows the refresh of<br />

its membership programme and launch of<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> app last year, sees Nick Meagher<br />

(above left) move to the Group from Tesco,<br />

where he was head of customer insight.<br />

Mr Meagher will start next month,<br />

reporting directly to Charlotte Lock –<br />

director of data, digital and loyalty at<br />

the Group – to drive the its membership<br />

ambitions. He will take on insight<br />

and research leadership for the<br />

Food, Insurance, Funeralcare, Legal,<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunity and Membership functions.<br />

Mr Meagher, whose CV also includes<br />

global insight leadership roles with<br />

Unilever and Mondelez International,<br />

said: “Joining the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is a great<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to be part of what must be<br />

one of the original, and certainly most<br />

enduring, purpose-led businesses.”<br />

In another recent appointment, the<br />

Group has hired awarding winning chef<br />

David Llewelyn to guide the culinary<br />

direction for its food businesses. As<br />

executive innovation chef, he will oversee<br />

product creation for ranges such as GRO<br />

and Irresistible.<br />

Mr Llewleyn has 15 years’ experience in<br />

the industry, with his most recent in-house<br />

role being executive devel<strong>op</strong>ment and<br />

innovation chef at Greencore. He was won<br />

accolades at the British Sandwich Designer<br />

of the Year awards and was named Free<br />

From Pasta Chef of the Year 2019.<br />

He said: “I am so excited to have the<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to join the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> team, and<br />

become part of a brand that puts so much<br />

into the quality of its food and how it<br />

sources ingredients.”<br />

Livestock co-<strong>op</strong> shares £30,000 surplus among members<br />

<strong>Co</strong>rnwall-based farmers’ co-<strong>op</strong> CQLP<br />

Livestock Marketing is sharing out<br />

£30,000 of surplus cash among its trading<br />

members, it has announced. The sum will<br />

be divided up according to the amount of<br />

cattle and sheep members have marketed<br />

through the group, based on a price per<br />

head of species sent.<br />

Watchdog to investigate retail co-<strong>op</strong>s’ funeral deal<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>mpetition and Markets Authority is<br />

(CMA) to examine the pr<strong>op</strong>osed transfer<br />

of funeral homes from Midcounties <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

to Central England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>. The pr<strong>op</strong>osed<br />

deal – involving 50 funeral homes, two<br />

vehicle logistics sites and 252 colleagues,<br />

which make up most of Midcounties’<br />

funeralcare business – was announced<br />

in June.<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> extends home delivery scheme<br />

Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> has launched a new<br />

same-day delivery service on the Isle<br />

of Wight, which it says will create eight<br />

new jobs on the island. Offering a range<br />

of Isle of Wight produce, the service is<br />

run in partnership with Snappy Sh<strong>op</strong>per.<br />

Southern h<strong>op</strong>es to roll out the delivery<br />

service to the rest of the island on 13<br />

<strong>September</strong>.<br />

Scottish credit union to deliver <strong>Co</strong>vid support fund<br />

North Ayrshire <strong>Co</strong>uncil has pledged<br />

£150,000 through Kilwinning-based<br />

1st Alliance Credit Union to support<br />

vulnerable pe<strong>op</strong>le who have been<br />

financially disadvantaged as a result of the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>vid-19 pandemic. Available to families,<br />

citizens and communities, it is h<strong>op</strong>ed<br />

the scheme will help protect pe<strong>op</strong>le from<br />

high-cost payday lenders.<br />

Leeds Credit Union helps housing tenants save millions<br />

Leeds Credit Union has delivered a social<br />

impact worth almost £6m to residents<br />

in West Yorkshire, a new report shows.<br />

It works with tenants of Housing Leeds,<br />

helping them with money management<br />

and budgeting. Using the Housing<br />

Associations’ Charitable Trust Wellbeing<br />

Valuation, it is estimated that this adds up<br />

to £.8m between 2017 and <strong>2021</strong>.

12 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />


Arla releases report on<br />

carbon footprints of its<br />

UK dairy farms<br />

The collective findings of the carbon<br />

footprints of 1,964 UK dairy farms have<br />

been released by the farmer-owned co-<strong>op</strong><br />

Arla, which says the data is being used to<br />

cut emissions from its milk production.<br />

The findings, summarised in a new<br />

report, A Sustainable Future for British<br />

Dairy, show that Arla’s UK farmers are<br />

producing milk with 1.13kg CO2e per kg of<br />

milk, around half the global average.<br />

It also details the most common areas of<br />

focus to reduce emissions further, and the<br />

emerging technologies being trialled.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> says the data will help it meet<br />

its targets of a 30% emissions reduction<br />

per kg of milk at farm-level by 2030, a first<br />

step on its journey to carbon net zero.<br />

Arla farmer and board director<br />

Arthur Fearnall said: “There are a lot<br />

of differences in how dairy is produced<br />

around the world. As a co-<strong>op</strong>erative,<br />

Arla farmers want to help the public<br />

understand dairy farming better. We have<br />

put a huge amount of time and investment<br />

into collating the data which we will now<br />

use to make decisions on farm.<br />

“I h<strong>op</strong>e our report is another step on that<br />

journey to provide better food education.<br />

We want the British public to feel the<br />

same sense of reassurance and pride<br />

about just how committed Arla farmers<br />

are to producing their dairy products as<br />

sustainably as possibly.”<br />

According to the report, Arla’s raw milk<br />

emissions come from six key areas:<br />

• cow digestion (46%)<br />

• cow feed (where and how it is produced)<br />

(37%)<br />

• manure handling (9%)<br />

• energy production and usage (5%)<br />

• emissions from peat soils (1%)<br />

• all other areas grouped together (2%).<br />

The report also finds that there is no one<br />

way to farm sustainably, and farmers who<br />

balance their resources successfully are<br />

those with the lowest emissions.<br />

The report highlights innovations on<br />

trial which have Arla involvement:<br />

• Research to identify how to quantify<br />

and speed up carbon sequestration<br />

(the process of carbon being taken out<br />

of the atmosphere by trees, grass or<br />

hedgerows), which will naturally offset<br />

some of Arla’s emissions in the future<br />

given 79% of Arla’s farm land is used to<br />

grow grass<br />

• Implementing precision slurry<br />

spreading techniques, currently used<br />

by 53% of UK farmers which can help<br />

reduce air born emissions of ammonia<br />

by between 30% and 90%<br />

• Supporting current research efforts<br />

across the scientific community to<br />

provide greater clarity around the<br />

difference in impact of methane vs CO2<br />

due to their lifespans, and the further<br />

consideration that needs to be given to<br />

the cycles of biogenic methane and how<br />

these are accounted for<br />

• Harnessing the power of slurry as a<br />

source of energy and fuel through<br />

anaerobic digestors on farm, and as a<br />

potential future fuel source for Arla’s<br />

milk tankers<br />

• Increasing the renewable energy<br />

produced on farm, with 27% of Arla<br />

farmers already producing green energy<br />

from wind or solar<br />

• Devel<strong>op</strong>ing and trialling new<br />

technologies that will continue to<br />

enhance animal welfare on farm such<br />

as Arla UK 360’s Happy cow measure<br />

and cow scanner trials<br />

Graham Wilkinson, group agriculture<br />

director for Arla Foods, said: “We know<br />

that to feed a growing p<strong>op</strong>ulation, we<br />

have to produce natural, nutritious and<br />

affordable food that is made in the most<br />

sustainable way. Dairy can and should<br />

be part of a sustainable diet and our<br />

new report is a major step forward in<br />

demonstrating just how much action is<br />

already underway across Arla farms as<br />

we move towards carbon net zero dairy<br />

production.<br />

“I’m really pleased that our farmer<br />

owners have collated this data and<br />

agreed to release it. All food production<br />

creates emissions, but our farmers are<br />

stepping up to help with the climate<br />

and environmental crisis we face. If we<br />

want more biodiversity, fewer emissions<br />

through natural processes and a reduced<br />

reliance on ultra-processed foods, then<br />

the only answer is to support British<br />

farmers, who already have many of the<br />

answers, but not always the financial<br />

resources to implement them.”<br />

Arla says the scheme is one of the world’s<br />

largest externally validated sets of carbon<br />

footprint data for farms. Since launching<br />

last year, 7,990 farms across seven<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean countries have submitted data on<br />

203 questions covering livestock numbers,<br />

feed composition, cr<strong>op</strong> production,<br />

fertiliser use, manure handling, and use<br />

of electricity, fuel and renewable energy.<br />

This data has been validated by external<br />

assessors in every market, a process which<br />

will be repeated annually.

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 13<br />

HEALTH<br />

Signalise co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

wins BSL NHS contract<br />

Signalise <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, the multi-stakeholder<br />

platform co-<strong>op</strong> established in 2019 to<br />

revolutionise the booking of British Sign<br />

Language (BSL) Interpreters, has won the<br />

CCG <strong>Co</strong>ntract to deliver a BSL NHS Health<br />

interpreting service in Liverpool.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> created an online booking<br />

system designed entirely by its users,<br />

giving deaf pe<strong>op</strong>le choice and control over<br />

the interpreters they use.<br />

Signalise is co-owned and co-run by<br />

both members of the local deaf community<br />

and BSL/English interpreters, and any<br />

profit made is reinvested into the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

and its community. Because everything<br />

is run online, costs are kept down and<br />

interpreters are paid fairly.<br />

“At long last we have a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

that really does listen and involve deaf<br />

members,” says co-<strong>op</strong> member Geraldine<br />

O’Halloran. “Our motto is ‘nothing about<br />

us without us’ and this means Signalise<br />

puts deaf clients at the very centre of the<br />

service. This has never happened before<br />

– deaf pe<strong>op</strong>le have a real <strong>op</strong>portunity to<br />

take back control and ensure we work<br />

with our interpreters, as partners, to get<br />

the service we need.”<br />

The framework agreement between<br />

Signalise and NHS Liverpool CCG is<br />

part of a wider programme to improve<br />

access to healthcare, and includes<br />

provision for other NHS partners from<br />

Merseyside and Cheshire to join the<br />

arrangements in the coming year. The<br />

new sign language services go live for<br />

GPs in Liverpool on 1 <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong>.<br />

High profile supporters include John<br />

McDonnell MP and disability activist<br />

and author Ellen Clifford. And this<br />

summer the co-<strong>op</strong> raised £328,250 in a<br />

community share offer – £28,000 over its<br />

£300,000 target. Signalise was awarded<br />

funding by the Liverpool City Region<br />

Future Innovation Fund to devel<strong>op</strong> a VRS<br />

service (video interpreting), and they also<br />

received a £10,000 donation from the<br />

National Education Union (NEU).<br />

“We are delighted to be working with<br />

Liverpool CCG to deliver an accessible and<br />

user led provision,” added Ms O’Halloran.<br />

“Signalise <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> is a user-led co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

of deaf community members and<br />

local interpreters – we are equal partners<br />

and this means we can help to devel<strong>op</strong><br />

and deliver an accessible communication<br />

service for local NHS medical access.<br />

“Remember deaf pe<strong>op</strong>le are the experts<br />

of their own needs, we know what we<br />

need to get the right support.”<br />

Space to<br />

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Leading the movement in workspaces for those who lead the change,<br />

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Visit www.ethicalpr<strong>op</strong>erty.co.uk Email sales@ethicalpr<strong>op</strong>erty.co.uk or call 01865 207 810 to find out more

14 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />


USA<br />

Electric co-<strong>op</strong>s face ‘outrageous’ exit fees to leave Tri-State<br />

Rural electric co-<strong>op</strong>s fighting to leave<br />

the Tri-State Generation and Transmission<br />

Association so they can source cleaner<br />

energy have been told it will cost them<br />

billions of dollars between them in exit<br />

fees.<br />

Nine members of Tri-State have been<br />

trying to find out how much it will cost<br />

to leave the association. Under their<br />

membership terms they are required to<br />

buy 95% of their energy from Tri-State,<br />

which still generates a substantial amount<br />

of coal energy.<br />

Last month they received the estimates<br />

in a federal filing, submitted by Tri-State<br />

after it was criticised by the regulator, the<br />

Federal Energy Regulatory <strong>Co</strong>mmission<br />

(FERC). For two <strong>Co</strong>lorado co-<strong>op</strong>s which<br />

have been leading the exodus, United<br />

Power and La Plata Electric Association,<br />

these come in at $1.5bn and $449m<br />

respectively.<br />

Tri-State says its exit fees are based<br />

on whichever figure is higher out of the<br />

exiting co-<strong>op</strong>’s share of the utility’s debt,<br />

or the present value of all the electricity<br />

Tri-State would have sold to the co-<strong>op</strong> up<br />

until 2050. It says its remaining members<br />

must be left in the same financial position<br />

they would have enjoyed if no other co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

had left.<br />

Eric Frankowski, executive director of<br />

green campaign group Western Clean<br />

Energy Campaign, said the exit fees are<br />

“barriers to leaving” for the co-<strong>op</strong>s.<br />

“It is disappointing that it took us<br />

multiple years to get an exit charge from<br />

Tri-State and that they did so only under<br />

pressure from FERC,” said La Plata CEO<br />

Jessica Matlock, who branded the co-<strong>op</strong>’s<br />

fee “outrageous”.<br />

Tri-State, which supplies wholesale<br />

electricity to co-<strong>op</strong>s in <strong>Co</strong>lorado, New<br />

Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska, has<br />

also announced changes to make the exit<br />

process more transparent. It has scrapped<br />

a fee for co-<strong>op</strong>s asking for an exit estimate<br />

and will no longer give its board discretion<br />

over whether a co-<strong>op</strong> can leave.<br />

It is also making efforts to generate more<br />

renewable energy. Last <strong>September</strong>, it said<br />

it would close its coal plants in <strong>Co</strong>lorado<br />

and New Mexico and build a gigawatt of<br />

new wind and solar projects. Ray Gifford,<br />

former chair of the <strong>Co</strong>lorado PUC, and<br />

Matt Larson, a partner at Wilkinson<br />

Barker Knauer LLP, who are representing<br />

La Plata in its exit bid, have welcomed<br />

FERC’s ruling in an <strong>op</strong>inion piece for<br />

Utility Dive website, where they argue that<br />

the generation and transmission model<br />

for electric co-<strong>op</strong>s has long been in need<br />

of reform.<br />

They wrote: “For too long, distribution<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives across the country have<br />

felt pain … as many of them ineffectually<br />

pursue a different energy future for<br />

their customers – a future with lower<br />

costs, cleaner generation and increased<br />

flexibility.”<br />

The case comes as the wider energy<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> movement in the US continues a<br />

push for cleaner energy. A campaign is<br />

being mounted by news and consultancy<br />

sharable Shareable, the Rural Power<br />

<strong>Co</strong>alition and activist electric co-<strong>op</strong><br />

members, calling for $100bn in federal<br />

support to help the sector transition<br />

to renewables. “Low-income memberowners<br />

of these co-<strong>op</strong>eratives face three<br />

times the energy burden of their higherincome<br />

urban peers,” says Shareable.<br />

“Rural communities need the<br />

authorisation of $100bn in appr<strong>op</strong>riations<br />

for federally insured Hardship Loans<br />

from the Rural Utilities Service along with<br />

conditions for loan forgiveness akin to<br />

those offered in the CARES Act through<br />

the Small Business Administration.<br />

There is still reliance on coal among<br />

electric co-<strong>op</strong>s, however. In Michigan,<br />

Wolverine Power <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative – which<br />

comprises five electric co-<strong>op</strong>s – is being<br />

lobbied by environmental groups to break<br />

its contract with Ohio Valley Electric<br />

<strong>Co</strong>rporation, which uses two coal plants,<br />

or to persuade it to work more efficiently<br />

And in Minnesota, 27 of the 28 member<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives of Great River Energy have<br />

just approved the sale of the financially<br />

struggling <strong>Co</strong>al Creek power coal power<br />

plant in North Dakota to wholesale<br />

company Rainbow Energy Center – and<br />

have agreed to purchase electricity from<br />

it over the next ten years. One co-<strong>op</strong>,<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nnexus – the largest in the group -<br />

voted against.<br />

Great River has said it intends to source<br />

more wind energy; and Rainbow Energy<br />

says it is introducing carbon capture<br />

storage. But Margaret Levin, director of<br />

the Minnesota chapter of clean energy<br />

campaign group the Sierra Club, said the<br />

deal “sets the stage for an environmental<br />

and financial fiasco. There is no<br />

reasonable scenario where this ends well<br />

for consumers and our environment.”

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 15<br />

USA<br />

Plotting a brighter future of work: Worker-owned staffing agency<br />

carries out research into quality jobs<br />

A co-<strong>op</strong>erative training and staffing<br />

agency, which is expanding its <strong>op</strong>erations<br />

in San Francisco, California, has been<br />

carrying out research to find ways to<br />

improve job quality in an increasingly<br />

casualised economy.<br />

Underpinning the research by Turning<br />

Basin Labs is its employment agency role,<br />

<strong>op</strong>erating out of the city’s Bay Area. It<br />

says it aims to create value for progressive<br />

businesses – including Workforce<br />

Devel<strong>op</strong>ment Boards, restaurants and<br />

community colleges – “by sourcing,<br />

placing, and supporting the best, most<br />

diverse talent”.<br />

It also wants to help “temporary<br />

workers seeking stability”. It currently<br />

has 20 members, with approximately<br />

36 pe<strong>op</strong>le on the payroll across half a<br />

dozen organisations, including Moxie<br />

Bookkeeping, JVS.org, Irvine Foundation<br />

and Martinez Adult Education. Once<br />

employees have done 120 hours of work,<br />

they become a member of the co-<strong>op</strong> with<br />

voting rights.<br />

Alongside its work in the Bay Area, it<br />

has extended its reach as far as Minnesota,<br />

Georgia, Oregon, and Washington, DC.<br />

Last month, Turning Basin made a<br />

presentation at the Horizons conference,<br />

organised by JFF.org, a national nonprofit<br />

that drives change in the American<br />

workforce and education systems. It has<br />

been working with JFF to help drive better<br />

outcomes based on worker power, job<br />

quality and career devel<strong>op</strong>ment.<br />

Managing director Stephen Bediako<br />

told the event: “We see ourselves as<br />

very different from a traditional staffing<br />

agency … We help our workers with<br />

their tax filing, we provide a network of<br />

community and support, we provide an<br />

employment record service, we have an<br />

emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and<br />

learning and devel<strong>op</strong>ment.”<br />

Mr Bediako said the co-<strong>op</strong> wants to<br />

bring its principles to life in other areas –<br />

which is why it is carrying out its research<br />

to gain insights into workers’ experience<br />

and devel<strong>op</strong> their skills.<br />

Lead researcher Danny Spitzberg said<br />

JFF and TBL have spoken to workers<br />

across a number of sectors about their<br />

experience of work and found three<br />

categories of job quality: trapped and<br />

struggling; flexible but stuck; and happily<br />

invested.<br />

He said the research suggested that<br />

job quality is defined by “approaching<br />

some kind of economic ownership of the<br />

business, not just a feeling, and having<br />

some kind of career autonomy beyond<br />

the job”. Things to avoid include policing<br />

staff in the workplace and denying them<br />

<strong>op</strong>tions for professional growth, he<br />

added.<br />

Mr Spitzberg said employers already<br />

have a lot of obligations that can make<br />

the additional task of offering job quality<br />

a struggle – but businesses also want<br />

committed, entrepreneurial workers.<br />

“We are aiming above all to make it<br />

easier for employers to take advantage of<br />

these structures and of these benefits of<br />

quality jobs – with more quality and more<br />

ownership.”<br />

In a paper it produced last year for JFF,<br />

Quality Jobs, From the Worker Perspective,<br />

Turning Basin said its research has also<br />

seen it identify “employers that have<br />

found creative ways to advance worker<br />

power, improve job quality, and support<br />

career devel<strong>op</strong>ment for low-wage earners,<br />

with a particular attention to the needs of<br />

independent contractors”.<br />

It added: “Our aim was to determine<br />

what’s actionable for employers<br />

nationwide and then use the research<br />

to devel<strong>op</strong> an investment fund that can<br />

support the growth of these workercentric<br />

employment models.”<br />

Marti Shaw, one of the four workerresearchers<br />

who carried out the study,<br />

said the project had changed her own<br />

attitude to work. A personal trainer<br />

who had been laid off because of the<br />

pandemic, she had found work in an<br />

Amazon warehouse.<br />

She said the study meant she now<br />

viewed work in terms of empowerment.<br />

“For me, this work became personal,”<br />

she said. “One participant called me<br />

back to tell me how our interview about<br />

‘empowerment’ and ‘ownership’ totally<br />

changed her outlook.”<br />

Going forward, Turning Basin Labs<br />

wants to “reimagine career and career<br />

progression in a dynamic way”.<br />

It plans to “devel<strong>op</strong> a framework<br />

for better employment”, which offers<br />

autonomy and ownership instead of<br />

being police by employers and lacking<br />

<strong>op</strong>tions.<br />

“We will define what it means to<br />

invest in employment models, and for<br />

employers to invest in workers. One<br />

former receptionist said her last company<br />

saw her as ‘interchangeable’ and didn’t<br />

take any interest in her as a person. In<br />

contrast, a graphic designer told us that<br />

her company literally invests in her as a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> owner and she sees a happy future<br />

with a living wage and benefits.”

16 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

USA<br />

Wave of federal<br />

acts could offer co-<strong>op</strong><br />

sector a springboard<br />

Federal lawmakers are working on a raft<br />

of new bills which could boost <strong>op</strong>erations<br />

in the co-<strong>op</strong> and credit union sectors.<br />

The reforms take in a number of areas<br />

of concern where the co-<strong>op</strong> movement<br />

is well-placed to take action, from<br />

rural broadband and renewable energy<br />

provision to financial inclusion and<br />

worker resilience.<br />

One step welcomed by the sector is a<br />

bill passed by the US House <strong>Co</strong>mmittee<br />

on Financial Services, ordering regulators<br />

to examine barriers to the creation of new<br />

credit unions.<br />

The Promoting New and Diverse<br />

Depository Institutions Act is supported<br />

by the Credit Union National Association<br />

(CUNA) and the National Association of<br />

Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU).<br />

It requires the National Credit Union<br />

Administration and other prudential<br />

regulators to conduct an 18-month study<br />

examining challenges prospective new<br />

depository institutions face. The regulators<br />

would also be tasked with devising a plan<br />

to encourage new financial institutions<br />

while promoting safety and soundness.<br />

“A challenge credit unions face in serving<br />

underserved and unbanked communities<br />

is the high regulatory burden to create<br />

new or de novo credit unions” reads the<br />

letter by CUNA’s CEO, Jim Nussle. “Prior<br />

to the Great Recession, an average of 7.7 de<br />

novo credit unions were created each year.<br />

However, in the years after, and in the wake<br />

of the implementation of Dodd-Frank, that<br />

average decreased to the creation of just 2.2<br />

de novo credit unions per year.”<br />

Innovation partnerships<br />

Meanwhile, a bipartisan bill to create new<br />

regional hubs of innovation across the US<br />

includes co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

Under the Regional Innovation Act, the<br />

secretary of commerce would be directed<br />

to create and promote regional innovation<br />

hubs via a grant programme. The bill<br />

also seeks to incentivise collaborative<br />

partnerships between local governments,<br />

colleges and universities, private<br />

industry, non-profits, and community<br />

organisations.<br />

During the markup of the bill,<br />

<strong>Co</strong>ngressman Jamaal Bowman (D-NY)<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>osed an amendment that would<br />

strengthen support for co-<strong>op</strong>s. The<br />

amendment would allow co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

associations, co-<strong>op</strong>erative devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

centres, and other organisations to form<br />

consortia and act as innovation hubs. The<br />

hubs would provide, among other things,<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative technical assistance, access<br />

to finance, start-ups training and support<br />

for conversions to the co-<strong>op</strong>erative model.<br />

“Building community wealth is a key<br />

goal of this bill and my amendment seeks<br />

to reinforce that goal in a few different<br />

ways,” said <strong>Co</strong>ngressman Bowman. “If<br />

we want to democratise our economy and<br />

create new industries in way that brings<br />

everyone in, one of the best ways to do<br />

so is to put employees in the driver seat<br />

by giving them ownership and decisionmaking<br />

stakes in the companies where<br />

they invest their time and talent. My<br />

amendment encourages that model as<br />

well as co-<strong>op</strong>erative business in general.<br />

“In offering this amendment, I am<br />

pleased to find common ground with<br />

my colleagues across the aisle as well as<br />

those who represent rural communities.<br />

From rural electric co-<strong>op</strong>s to farmer co<strong>op</strong>eratives,<br />

some of the most exciting<br />

examples of economic democracy come<br />

from rural parts of the country and my<br />

amendment highlights that expertise.”<br />

The amended bill awaits consideration<br />

by the full US House of Representatives.<br />

Infrastructure upgrade<br />

Another bipartisan bill, approved by the<br />

Senate, looks at upgrading the national<br />

infrastructure and could provide billions<br />

of dollars for electric co-<strong>op</strong> priorities, says<br />

US sector body NCBA CLUSA.<br />

The fund would support devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

of broadband, electric vehicle charging<br />

networks and clean energy technology<br />

such as energy storage and carbon capture<br />

and other clean energy technologies.<br />

Electric co-<strong>op</strong>s have been identified as key<br />

players in rolling out these innovations<br />

into rural parts of the US.<br />

The bill must still be taken up by the<br />

House, which returned early from recess<br />

on 23 August.<br />

“Investing in our energy infrastructure<br />

is vital to ensuring that electric co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

can continue to do what they<br />

do best: provide reliable, affordable power<br />

to 42 million Americans,” said Louis<br />

Finkel, NRECA’s senior vice president of<br />

government relations. “Passage of this bill<br />

is a great start. We’ll continue to work with

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 17<br />

<strong>Co</strong>ngress to press for more co-<strong>op</strong> priorities<br />

to be included in the bigger infrastructure<br />

packages that lawmakers are expected to<br />

take up later this year.”<br />

But NCBA CLUSA warns that the $550bn<br />

bill does not include the Flexible Financing<br />

for Rural America Act, which would<br />

allow co-<strong>op</strong>s to save more than $10bn<br />

by repricing their existing Rural Utilities<br />

Service debt at current low interest rates<br />

without prepayment penalties. It also<br />

does not include legislation to provide<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s with direct federal payments to<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> renewable energy and battery<br />

storage projects.<br />

Inclusion of those pr<strong>op</strong>osals was<br />

hampered by the absence of tax or<br />

agriculture sections, it says.<br />

NRECA, the sector body for the country’s<br />

rural electric co-<strong>op</strong>s, says will continue<br />

to push for those two t<strong>op</strong> priorities to<br />

be included in separate infrastructure<br />

legislation expected later this year.<br />

Worker protections<br />

Also working its way through the<br />

legislature is the Emergency Economic<br />

and Workforce System Resiliency Act,<br />

introduced on 16 July by Representative<br />

Adam Smith (D-Washington).<br />

The bill will provide funding to state<br />

and local workforce agencies to prevent<br />

layoffs, support displaced workers, and<br />

collaborate with employers to devel<strong>op</strong><br />

strategies to preserve and create jobs.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>vid-19 has significantly impacted<br />

our workforce and left many workers<br />

experiencing joblessness or employment<br />

instability,” said <strong>Co</strong>ngressman Smith.<br />

“These disruptions have underscored the<br />

need for an updated workforce training<br />

system that better prepares our workers for<br />

changing job markets and supports them<br />

in times of disruption. Current economic<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment programmes, workforce<br />

training programmes, and unemployment<br />

benefits programmes are often siloed and<br />

focus on workers already out of work.<br />

“This bill will provide critical funding<br />

to state and local workforce agencies to<br />

prevent layoffs and support workers and<br />

firms as jobs and industries encounter<br />

transitions. Through increased resources<br />

for training, upskilling, and piloting<br />

innovative incumbent worker training<br />

models, this bill will help workers<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> and stay current on the skills and<br />

credentials necessary to maintain highquality<br />

jobs with good wages and benefits.”<br />

The Act would focus on prevention by<br />

promoting a model of investing in workers<br />

and firms prior to layoffs and sector-wide<br />

changes in workforce needs, unlike the<br />

current workforce system, which focuses<br />

heavily on helping those already out<br />

of work. As part of this, the bill creates<br />

a five-year funding stream to state and<br />

local workforce boards, which can be<br />

used for investing in new programmes to<br />

prevent layoffs, assist displaced workers,<br />

assist firms in transitioning to employee<br />

ownership or worker co-<strong>op</strong>erative models,<br />

and support employers in preserving<br />

existing jobs and creating new ones.<br />

Additional funding would also be allocated<br />

for five-year pilot programmes for states to<br />

implement innovative workforce systemwide<br />

layoff aversion models.<br />

The bill has the backing of a number<br />

of co-<strong>op</strong>erative apexes, including NCBA-<br />

CLUSA, whose president and CEO Doug<br />

O’Brien said: “NCBA is proud to endorse<br />

the Emergency Economic and Workforce<br />

Resiliency Act and appreciates the<br />

leadership from <strong>Co</strong>ngressman Smith<br />

and Senator Klobuchar (D-Minnesota).<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives are an important tool<br />

toward sustainable and stable workforce<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment and economic growth, and<br />

we commend Rep. Smith for recognising<br />

the value for workers, businesses and<br />

communities. “By increasing financing<br />

and technical assistance resources for<br />

p The infrastructure bill could help co-<strong>op</strong>s supply EV charging points<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives through the Workforce<br />

Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA),<br />

this legislation will not only help reduce<br />

or avert layoffs, but also give more pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

the <strong>op</strong>portunity to own and control the<br />

businesses where they work and use,<br />

and we look forward to working with Sen<br />

Klobuchar and Rep Smith to advance<br />

this legislation.”<br />

The US Federation of Worker<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives (USFWC) said it was “proud to<br />

support this legislation, which prioritises<br />

workers who have been deeply impacted<br />

by the <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 pandemic by supporting<br />

at-risk workers, employers, and industry<br />

through strengthening state workforce<br />

systems and industry-sector supports.”<br />

The Democracy at Work Institute,<br />

which was created by the US Federation of<br />

Worker <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives (USFWC) to ensure<br />

that worker co-<strong>op</strong>erative devel<strong>op</strong>ment in<br />

economically and socially marginalised<br />

communities is adequately supported,<br />

effective, and strategically directed, also<br />

supports the legislation.<br />

Melissa Hoover, executive director<br />

at the Institute, said: “The Emergency<br />

Economic and Workforce Resiliency<br />

Act can play a critical part in reducing<br />

unemployment and creating a stronger<br />

and more equitable foundation for the<br />

American worker by making the tool of<br />

worker ownership a more widely used<br />

strategy for job quality and retention.”<br />

The Bill is due to be introduced in the<br />

Senate by Sen Amy Klobuchar.

18 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

EUROPE<br />

RESco<strong>op</strong> responds to EC draft state aid guidelines on green energy<br />

The Eur<strong>op</strong>ean federation of citizen energy<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives (RESco<strong>op</strong>) has responded to<br />

the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmission’s consultation<br />

on the draft revised Guidelines on State<br />

aid for Environmental Protection and<br />

Energy (CEEAG) 2014-2020.<br />

Published in June, the draft guidelines<br />

set out the conditions under which<br />

state aid for energy and environmental<br />

protection can be allowed under the<br />

Single Market.<br />

RESco<strong>op</strong>, which is a network of 1.900<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean energy co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and their<br />

1.25 million citizens, argues the new draft<br />

guidelines fail to align with the EU’s the<br />

Clean Energy for All Eur<strong>op</strong>eans legislative<br />

package (CEP).<br />

“The legal framework for RECs created<br />

by the CEP intended to remedy market<br />

failures and create favourable policy<br />

and legal environments so that RECs can<br />

grow at the national level. Unfortunately,<br />

the new draft Guidelines on State aid for<br />

climate, environmental protection and<br />

energy (CEEAG) do little to align with the<br />

CEP’s approach.<br />

“The CEEAG need to provide clear<br />

and positive guidance, so that Member<br />

States are able to innovate in designing<br />

renewables support schemes that can<br />

help jump-start community ownership<br />

of renewables production in their energy<br />

markets,” warns the apex.<br />

RESco<strong>op</strong> also pointed out that the<br />

existing 2014 Guidelines on State aid for<br />

Environmental Protection and Energy<br />

(EEAG) had contributed towards a<br />

number of barriers to the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of<br />

renewable energy co-<strong>op</strong>eratives (RECs),<br />

such as an uneven level playing field for<br />

RECs due to an emphasis on competitive<br />

bidding for renewables support and an<br />

“insufficient recognition of the different<br />

factual and legal situation of smaller<br />

and non-commercial market actors, in<br />

particular RECs.”<br />

The apex adds that the draft guidelines<br />

do not acknowledge the market failures<br />

that prevent communities from taking<br />

more ownership in the renewables sector<br />

or take into account the challenges small<br />

and non-commercial market actors face to<br />

access market-based competitive bidding<br />

procedures.<br />

It also argues that the guidance should<br />

“balance cost-efficiency and other marketbased<br />

outcomes against other social policy<br />

considerations such as inclusiveness and<br />

public acceptance”.<br />

To address these issues, RESco<strong>op</strong><br />

suggests, among others, dedicated<br />

provisions on RECs acknowledging their<br />

unique market position and challenges<br />

as non-commercial market actors;<br />

increased thresholds to exempt RECs<br />

and other small renewables production<br />

installations from having to participate<br />

in competitive bidding procedures; clear<br />

and concrete guidance to help Member<br />

States integrate RECs into their support<br />

schemes; and simpler administrative<br />

burdens on Member States that want to<br />

create dedicated support for RECs in their<br />

national renewables support scheme.<br />

The guidelines should also recognise the<br />

social impacts on local communities from<br />

renewable energy projects, and establish<br />

supportive provisions on the integration<br />

of social criteria into competitive bidding<br />

procedures for renewables, adds RESco<strong>op</strong>.<br />

RESco<strong>op</strong>’s reaction echoed that of the<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Power <strong>Co</strong>alition,<br />

a network of over 40 associations,<br />

which has also criticised the Eur<strong>op</strong>ean<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmission for ignoring Renewable<br />

Energy <strong>Co</strong>mmunities in its latest draft<br />

state aid guidelines.<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>alition wants the draft guidelines<br />

changed to include provisions and<br />

references to RECs to make sure that<br />

competition law supports the green<br />

transition, rather than forming a barrier<br />

to it.

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 19<br />


Fonterra scraps<br />

coal power at cheese<br />

plant in climate drive<br />

p Fonterra’s team at the Stirling plant<br />

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra has<br />

announced plans to phase out coal use at<br />

its Stirling plant in Otago.<br />

The cheese plant, which plans to be<br />

coal free by August next year, will replace<br />

coal with wood biomass and become<br />

Fonterra’s first 100% renewable thermal<br />

energy site.<br />

Fonterra plans to replicate the initiative,<br />

as part of its ambitions to get out of coal<br />

altogether by 2037. Eight out of its 29 sites<br />

are still using coal.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong>erative says that switching to<br />

wood biomass will cut the site’s annual<br />

emissions by 18,500 tonnes of CO2.<br />

Fonterra general manager (<strong>op</strong>erations,<br />

Lower South Island) Richard Gray says<br />

this is another huge decarbonisation<br />

milestone for the co-<strong>op</strong>.<br />

“Sustainability is at the heart of our<br />

strategy, and this project is something<br />

that will be good for the environment and<br />

local community,” he said.<br />

“As well as the site being coal-free there<br />

are additional environmental benefits,<br />

including a reduction in wastewater,<br />

noise, solid waste to landfill and air<br />

discharge emissions.<br />

“There are also economic benefits<br />

– the installation will contribute more<br />

than NZ$10m into the region, along with<br />

supporting an estimated 10 jobs in the<br />

wood biomass industry.”<br />

Fonterra has undertaken two other<br />

fuel-switching projects over the past<br />

three years at its Te Awamutu and<br />

Brightwater sites.<br />

Impact <strong>Co</strong>nference to feature training course for execs<br />

The International Centre for <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Management at Saint Mary’s University<br />

in Canada is offering a new executive<br />

education course at the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Impact <strong>Co</strong>nference, organised by US<br />

sector body NCBA CLUSA. It will cover<br />

all aspects of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative identity,<br />

offering a range of tools and case studies.<br />

More information at ncbaclusa.co<strong>op</strong><br />

Canadian co-<strong>op</strong>s want a higher profile for the model<br />

Poor awareness of the co-<strong>op</strong> model is<br />

the most pressing issue for the sector,<br />

a survey finds. Other concerns reported<br />

to the Canadian Centre for the Study of<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives include demutualisation<br />

risks, difficulty in accessing finance, and<br />

poor understanding of co-<strong>op</strong>s among<br />

leaders hired from conventional<br />

business. uNew Economical<br />

demutualises, p40-41<br />

Mexican cartels using fishery co-<strong>op</strong>s to move drugs<br />

Criminal groups in Mexico are said to be<br />

using fishery co-<strong>op</strong>eratives to transport<br />

drugs.<br />

A report by newspaper El Universal<br />

revealed that local gangs are setting up fake<br />

fishing co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in the states Chiapas,<br />

Oaxaca y Guerrero, in southern Mexico,<br />

and use registered vessels to travel to collect<br />

drugs from <strong>Co</strong>lombia and Ecuador.<br />

Grocery co-<strong>op</strong> network launches online retail platform<br />

National <strong>Co</strong>+<strong>op</strong> Grocers (NCG) has teamed<br />

up with e-commerce platform Mercato to<br />

provide its member network of grocery<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s with digital capabilities, such as<br />

online ordering and delivery. Mercato says<br />

it is creating a customised platform where<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> sh<strong>op</strong>pers can use their member<br />

number when purchasing items online.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Housing Ireland creates 454 new homes<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Housing Ireland (CHI) has<br />

created 454 homes in 2020, according to<br />

its latest annual report. A federation of co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

with 14 affiliated societies, CHI works<br />

with local and national government,<br />

housebuyers, tenants and devel<strong>op</strong>ers.<br />

The report came as it launched its Kildare<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment of 80 homes in Loughlion<br />

Green, its largest to date.

20 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />


Fairtrade helps cocoa farmers lift income by 85% in four years<br />

p Fairtrade farmers collect cocoa pods at harvest<br />

A household income survey by Fairtrade<br />

International found that Fairtrade<br />

farmers in Côte d’Ivoire have significantly<br />

boosted their income over the last four<br />

years.<br />

The survey collected data through<br />

online interviews with farmers and a<br />

survey of management staff of the farmer<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives in Côte d’Ivoire.<br />

The survey found that the average<br />

Ivorian cocoa farmer annual household<br />

income grew by 85%, from US$2,670<br />

(£1,920) in 2016/17 to $4,937 (£3,552)<br />

in 2020/21, a surge it attributes to<br />

increased revenue from cocoa sales and<br />

diversification through in-kind and offfarm<br />

incomes. For example, in 2016-2017<br />

the average farmer earned 74% of their<br />

household income from cocoa; today that<br />

figure is 58%.<br />

The research also revealed that 61% of<br />

the farmers’ households in the study were<br />

living above the extreme poverty line,<br />

compared to 42% based on data collected<br />

in 2016/17 and published in 2018.<br />

“This increase in household income<br />

is good news for these Fairtrade farmer<br />

households in challenging times,” said<br />

Jon Walker, Fairtrade’s senior adviser on<br />

cocoa. “However, far too many farmer<br />

households are still not earning a living<br />

income. With continued pressure on<br />

prices, high national production and<br />

suppressed global demand, brands and<br />

retailers can step in and make further<br />

progress on living incomes through<br />

long-term contracts, stable prices and<br />

programmatic support focusing on farm<br />

efficiency and diversification. There is<br />

still much more to be done.”<br />

The report found that some co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

performed better than others in the<br />

distribution of the Fairtrade Minimum<br />

Price (FMP) differential (ranging from<br />

100% of farmers who received the<br />

payment for the best performing co-<strong>op</strong>, to<br />

12% for the lowest performing. Fairtrade<br />

says it will take action to ensure that<br />

future payments are made in a timely<br />

manner and farmers are more clearly<br />

informed about it.<br />

Another finding was that for 64.3%<br />

of farmers, the FT premium makes up<br />

less than 2% of their income, meaning<br />

they have become less reliant on the<br />

premium because the average household<br />

income has increased. One possible<br />

explanation is that farmers have received<br />

more support from the premium in the<br />

form of services and training instead of<br />

payments.<br />

Fairtrade concluded that diversification<br />

strategies, premiums and trainings could<br />

drive further improvements.<br />

USA<br />

Land O’Lakes reports doubled half-year<br />

earnings as it marks centenary<br />

US dairy co-<strong>op</strong> Land O’Lakes has reported<br />

a 9% increase in half-year sales of US$8bn,<br />

with net earnings up 99% to $236m.<br />

The results came in as the co-<strong>op</strong> marked<br />

its 100th anniversary with the unveiling<br />

of bronze statue Rooted in Tomorrow. The<br />

sculpture, modelled after an image of a<br />

Land O’Lakes member and grandchild<br />

walking the farm, “symbolises how our<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative is celebrating a century of<br />

innovation and fostering relationships”,<br />

wrote communications manager Brooke<br />

Dillon in a blog post.<br />

The statue is the work of Minnesota artist<br />

Deb Zeller, the granddaughter of a former<br />

Land O’Lakes farmer. “This <strong>op</strong>portunity<br />

was inspired by many recollections of<br />

working around our farm with my dad, a<br />

proud Land O’Lakes dairy man,” said Ms<br />

Zeller. “In farming, we say we manage so<br />

the next generations can thrive. I see this<br />

work telling that story — the little girl is<br />

leading the family farm into the future,<br />

encouraged by the strength and character<br />

of those who raised her there.”<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong> said its strong financial<br />

performance “reflects strength in cr<strong>op</strong><br />

inputs and animal nutrition and higher<br />

pricing across the portfolio to offset rising<br />

input and supply chain costs.<br />

“Net sales accelerated in the second<br />

quarter as farmers invested in their cr<strong>op</strong>s<br />

and animals,” it added. “The company<br />

continued to leverage its differentiated<br />

brands and reported stronger performance<br />

across all business units.”<br />

But president and CEO Beth Ford<br />

warned that the coming third quarter<br />

“could be our toughest year-over-year<br />

comparison in our historically smallest<br />

quarter, as during 2020, <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 drove<br />

above normal retail purchasing.<br />

“I’m proud of the team that continues<br />

to lead strong performance, both in sales<br />

and in voice.”

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 21<br />

JORDAN<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s put in the driving seat for decent work<br />

Jordan plans to use co-<strong>op</strong>eratives as a tool<br />

to drive decent work and productivity in<br />

different economic sectors in the country.<br />

The plans are laid out in the new<br />

national strategy devel<strong>op</strong>ed by Jordan<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>rporation (JCC) and the<br />

International Labour Organization (ILO).<br />

The strategy was launched at an event<br />

featuring prime minister Bisher Al-<br />

Khasawneh on 3 July, the International<br />

Day of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

The event was attended by other highlevel<br />

government officials, including the<br />

minister of agriculture Khaled Hneifat; the<br />

director general of the Jordan <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>Co</strong>rporation, Abdel Fattah Al Shalabi;<br />

and ILO deputy regional director for Arab<br />

states, Frank Hagemann.<br />

“There is a need to devel<strong>op</strong> the<br />

Jordanian co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement, due<br />

to its importance in contributing to the<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment of local communities, and<br />

to devel<strong>op</strong> the tools and means to bring<br />

about change towards a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement that is more widespread and<br />

more influential in Jordan’s society,”<br />

said Mr Hneifat at the launch. “The ILO<br />

considers co-<strong>op</strong>eratives as critical in<br />

advancing its mandate for social justice,<br />

and the ILO has supported co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment for 100 years.<br />

“We have been working closely with<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement in Jordan<br />

to strengthen its capacity to advance<br />

livelihood <strong>op</strong>portunities for Jordanian,<br />

refugee, and migrant women and men,<br />

particularly those employed in the<br />

agricultural sector.”<br />

While devel<strong>op</strong>ing the strategy,<br />

JCC engaged with a national steering<br />

committee, which included representatives<br />

of key ministries and co-<strong>op</strong>erative experts.<br />

The five-year strategic document aims<br />

to achieve three outcomes: a conducive<br />

environment for the Jordanian co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement; an efficient service<br />

infrastructure for co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and<br />

unions; and autonomous, self-reliant co<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

providing efficient services to<br />

their members.<br />

“The strategy represents a new start for<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative work and the co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement in Jordan. It ad<strong>op</strong>ts several<br />

outputs, the most important of which is the<br />

existence of an enabling environment for<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and which includes revising<br />

legislation that govern co-<strong>op</strong>erative work,<br />

in addition to establishing autonomous<br />

and self-reliant co-<strong>op</strong>eratives based on co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

principles and values that serve<br />

their members,” said JCC director general<br />

Abdel Fattah Al Shalabi.<br />

The strategy was devel<strong>op</strong>ed with<br />

the technical and financial support<br />

from the ILO in Jordan as part of under<br />

PROSPECTS, a four-year programme led<br />

by the government of the Netherlands, in<br />

close collaboration with the ILO’s Global<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Unit (COOP)<br />

“Advancing decent work <strong>op</strong>portunities<br />

is one of the main aims of Dutch<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment programming in Jordan,”<br />

said the chargé d’affaires of the Embassy<br />

of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E.<br />

Mr. Dolf Hogewoning.<br />

“The launch of the national strategy<br />

for the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement signifies a<br />

milestone in strengthening co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

to ensure decent job creation and work<br />

across the agricultural value chain. The<br />

Netherlands is proud to support the<br />

Government of Jordan in the devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

and implementation of this work through<br />

the PROSPECTS partnership.”<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Bank reports increase in half-year profit<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Bank of South Sudan says its<br />

net profit for the first six months of the<br />

year has grown 2.3% to Sh7.4bn (£40m).<br />

It says the growth comes a 20% increase<br />

in total <strong>op</strong>erating income – made up of<br />

interest income and non-interest income<br />

– to Sh29.2bn (£160m).<br />

Net interest income grew by 18%, with<br />

an 11% expansion in the loan book, while<br />

non-interest income rose 24%. This was<br />

supported by the bank’s Mco-<strong>op</strong> Cash<br />

mobile wallet has given out loans valued<br />

at around Sh5.6bn (£30m) a month.<br />

Operating expenses rose 28% to<br />

Sh18.7bn (£100m) on account of a 123%<br />

growth in provisioning for loan defaults.<br />

CEO Gideon Muriuki said the increase<br />

in default provision was made to allow<br />

for challenges posed to customers by<br />

the pandemic – adding that customers<br />

have resumed payments on most of the<br />

restructured loans.<br />

The bank is a joint venture between the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Bank of Kenya with the government<br />

of South Sudan, which has just been<br />

extended by three years.<br />

The partners formed the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Bank of South Sudan in 2013, with the<br />

Kenyan banking multinational taking a<br />

controlling 51% stake. The government<br />

took the remaining 49%, which it will<br />

hold in trust and later transfer to the<br />

national co-<strong>op</strong> movement.

22 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

MEET...<br />

Om Devi Malla<br />

Vice chair of Nepal’s co-<strong>op</strong><br />

federation and ICA global board<br />

member<br />

Om Devi Malla is a member of the legislative Parliament of Nepal,<br />

vice-chairperson of National <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Federation of Nepal,<br />

and sits on the global board of the International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Alliance.<br />



My inner sense of mutual help and co-<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

pushed me to be a co-<strong>op</strong>erator. In my preliminary<br />

working life, I was involved in the private business<br />

sector with my family. <strong>Co</strong>incidentally, I came<br />

across the co-<strong>op</strong>erative activities with my seniors<br />

who inspired me to start a co-<strong>op</strong>erative and extend<br />

collaboration among ourselves. The co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement is a movement of pe<strong>op</strong>le, its centre is<br />

its members. To be involved in the co-<strong>op</strong>erative is<br />

to serve members. It is a collective way of helping<br />

each other. I found the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement to<br />

be a medium of a socialist society with democratic<br />

norms and values.<br />


When I joined the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement in 1996,<br />

my family members and friends were my supporters.<br />

But gradually I got involved with the National<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Federation (NCF) where I met Deepak<br />

Prakash Baskota, then chair of the federation, who<br />

encouraged me. In 2005 I went to India to study for a<br />

diploma in co-<strong>op</strong>erative education and management<br />

and met Savitri Singh, the director of National<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Union of India; she motivated me to<br />

continue with the movement. Dame Pauline Green,<br />

former president of the International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

My inner sense of mutual help and<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eration pushed me to be a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erator<br />

Alliance, is another role model who inspired me<br />

more to be actively involved.<br />



[This degree] is the result of many years of effort.<br />

When I studied in India, the idea of a similar course<br />

in Nepal came to mind; I started lobbying for it, but<br />

there was no policy to back it up at the time. The<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> movement of Nepal was also lobbying the<br />

government and the political parties to recognise<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>erative model for economic devel<strong>op</strong>ment;<br />

this was achieved in the interim constitution of<br />

Nepal 2007, and the first national co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

policy was announced by the government in 2012.<br />

National <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Policy explicitly says<br />

that co-<strong>op</strong>eratives will be taught at school<br />

and university level, but we struggled to make<br />

the formal arrangement. A team from Nepal<br />

led by myself with the dean of management<br />

from Tribhuvan University and others visited<br />

universities in India where the co-<strong>op</strong> model has<br />

been taught for a long time. It was a breakthrough<br />

event for introducing the co-<strong>op</strong>erative course in<br />

grades 9-12 (secondary level) in Nepal; now the<br />

NCF has made a memorandum of understanding<br />

with the Tribhuvan University to launch an MBA in<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s and entrepreneurship. Next we are focusing<br />

on the managerial level and are devel<strong>op</strong>ing diploma<br />

level skill-oriented academic and nonacademic<br />

courses in collaboration with the universities.<br />



We have made several efforts to get co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

recognised as a pillar of economic devel<strong>op</strong>ment

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 23<br />

and as a means of attaining the goal of socialist<br />

society in the new constitution of Nepal. As a<br />

member of the constituent I had made personal<br />

efforts to make this happen. Secondly, with the<br />

then chairman of NCF and constituent assembly<br />

member Keshav Badal, I worked on the change in<br />

parliamentary committees. So, despite some room<br />

for further improvement, we have put our best<br />

effort to include many good provisions for the co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

promotion in the New <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Act<br />

2017 and <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Regulation 2019.<br />

For example, we put 33% mandatory reservation<br />

for female participation board representation.<br />

However, there are other several cross cutting<br />

laws that need to be amended to increase the<br />

contribution of co-<strong>op</strong>s in agri enterprise and<br />

medium and large industries.<br />

The lesson we have learnt for fostering an<br />

enabling environment for co-<strong>op</strong>s is to continuously<br />

lobby and advocate with the government and other<br />

stakeholders.<br />


DURING COVID-19?<br />

The Nepalese co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement has tried<br />

its very best to service our members affected by<br />

the pandemic. During lockdown, co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

delivered doorstep services. Because of the closure<br />

of small and medium enterprises, our members<br />

could not deposit their regular savings or repay<br />

instalments in time. This affected cash flow and<br />

other financial indicators, so we lobbied for the<br />

extension of payment periods, discounted interest<br />

and penalties, and rearranged the loan structure<br />

through several policy measures.<br />



In Nepal, women make up more than 56% of co-<strong>op</strong><br />

members, but hold less than 40% of the leadership<br />

roles. <strong>Co</strong>nsidering women’s inclusion in co<strong>op</strong>eratives,<br />

we managed to reserve 33% of seats for<br />

women in the different committees of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

through the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Act 2017 – but the challenge<br />

is still there. Many co-<strong>op</strong>eratives have not changed<br />

their bylaws in line with the spirit of co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

act and regulation. Women co-<strong>op</strong>erators should<br />

come forward to enjoy their rights and duties. They<br />

should be proactive. Nobody will grant them the<br />

benefits – it should be grasped. Although the legal<br />

environment is favourable, there is still a lack of<br />

knowledge in a largely patriarchal society. We are<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ing women empowerment programmes<br />

to give women the tools to be independent and<br />

empowered economically, socially and culturally.<br />



Very bright. The co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement was<br />

initiated by the executive government order in<br />

1956 for the support of flood-stricken pe<strong>op</strong>le. Later<br />

the government enacted the co-<strong>op</strong>erative act and<br />

institutionalised co-<strong>op</strong>erative devel<strong>op</strong>ment. The<br />

government started to write co-<strong>op</strong>erative plans<br />

from its 10th five-year plan. Now we have the 15th<br />

five-year plan, again including co-<strong>op</strong> devel<strong>op</strong>ment.<br />

The most important thing is to have co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

in the constitution as one of the pillars of economic<br />

devel<strong>op</strong>ment. This all shows the full commitment<br />

of the government to promote co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

But we have to show our sincerity towards<br />

maintaining co-<strong>op</strong>erative principles and values,<br />

and show our commitment in keeping good<br />

governance in co-<strong>op</strong>eratives.<br />

To grow the sector, we must empower co<strong>op</strong>erators<br />

and devel<strong>op</strong> a transparent and healthy<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> movement by implementing standardised<br />

monitoring indicators. It doesn’t matter how many<br />

members, savings and share accounts we have<br />

unless it positively affects the living standards<br />

and lives of co-<strong>op</strong> members. So we have to be<br />

serious about uplifting their living standard<br />

through different socio-economic activities while<br />

also devel<strong>op</strong>ing a self-sustainable co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement.<br />

I am trying my best to increase the number of<br />

young members and women members because<br />

I believe young pe<strong>op</strong>le are good ambassadors<br />

for the change in society – and women must be<br />

economically self-sustained.<br />

I appeal to all national, regional and international<br />

organisations to make a common effort for attaining<br />

the self-sustained and good governed co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement around the globe.

24 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />




AUGUST <strong>2021</strong>)<br />

I remember the BFYC – I was chair of the<br />

Chelmsford Star <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Society branch for<br />

a couple of years in the early 60s. We went<br />

to a couple of weekend schools/meetings,<br />

one at a co-<strong>op</strong> youth residential centre in<br />

Sussex, the other in the Peak District.<br />

As a result of this practical experience,<br />

and the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Union courses I took over<br />

six or seven years, I won a scholarship to<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>llege at Stanford Hall in 1962.<br />

There, as well as completing management<br />

courses and a teaching course, I was chair<br />

of the students’ branch of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Have your say<br />

Add your comments to our stories<br />

online at thenews.co<strong>op</strong>, get in touch<br />

via social media, or send us a letter.<br />

If sending a letter, please include<br />

your address and contact number.<br />

Letters may be edited and no longer<br />

than 350 words.<br />

Party. Sixty years later I am still involved<br />

with co-<strong>op</strong> societies and the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party.<br />

Societies today should do more to<br />

educate their staff and members about<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong>erative model. Once they know<br />

there is a very successful alternative to<br />

capitalism, they will be more involved.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erators have been saying that co<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

should be taught to all school<br />

and college students for the last 100 years.<br />

Sadly with no response. Information<br />

needs to be distributed to all schools and<br />

colleges and they should cover all types of<br />

UK co-<strong>op</strong>s not just the retail societies.<br />

John Harrington<br />

Via Facebook<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong>, Holyoake<br />

House, Hanover Street,<br />

Manchester M60 0AS<br />

letters@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

@co<strong>op</strong>news<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong><br />


This is a tremendous lifetime achievement<br />

from Paul – the longest serving CEO in the<br />

sector. Another example of sustainability<br />

from the wonderful Ecology Building<br />

Society!<br />

Helen Ashley Taylor<br />

Via Twitter<br />




[Professional co-<strong>op</strong>erative training<br />

programmes] are badly needed in Ireland<br />

too. I regularly speak to co-<strong>op</strong>s that<br />

have been ill-advised based on advisors<br />

treating them as either an investor<br />

oriented firm, or a nonprofit...<br />

Sam Toland<br />

Via Twitter<br />


Derek Oldham<br />

Derek Oldham, a driving force behind the<br />

success of Penrith <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Society,<br />

has died at the age of 92.<br />

Mr Oldham was general manager<br />

at the society from 1961 until 1991<br />

and oversaw major improvements at<br />

a number of its sh<strong>op</strong>s in Cumbria,<br />

including the devel<strong>op</strong>ment of the<br />

premises in Burrowgate, Penrith, into<br />

a supermarket and department store.<br />

Penrith <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> had formed in 1890; it<br />

merged with Scotmid <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative in<br />

2013, and rebranded as the Lakes &<br />

Dales <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative.<br />

Born in Rusholme, Manchester, to<br />

Phyllis and James Oldham, he qualified<br />

as an accountant and worked for the co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

movement around Lancashire<br />

and Yorkshire.<br />

He married Doreen Lees, from<br />

Longsight, in 1953 and became manager<br />

of the Great Moor co-<strong>op</strong>, in Stockport,<br />

and later the general manager in Penrith.<br />

The next 30 years saw the Penrith<br />

society enjoy great success, with Derek<br />

overseeing devel<strong>op</strong>ments such as the<br />

building of new premises for the Shap<br />

and Keswick branches, and the creation<br />

in Penrith of a large store in Burrowgate<br />

where there had been a series of small<br />

sh<strong>op</strong>s. The society also had a number<br />

of smaller sh<strong>op</strong>s and ran mobile sh<strong>op</strong>s<br />

along with milk and coal rounds.<br />

Away from his work – to which he<br />

was highly dedicated, Mr Oldham was<br />

a founder member of Penrith Lions Club<br />

and twice served as its president. He<br />

also helped to form a meningitis support<br />

group in the Penrith area, and organised<br />

fundraising – including through a 1981<br />

football match between the Penrith club<br />

and Manchester City, who were FA Cup<br />

finalists that year, for which Penrith<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Society provided financial<br />

support.<br />

He was a keen Manchester City<br />

supporter, and played table tennis,<br />

badminton, squash and lawn tennis,<br />

serving as chair of the Penrith Tennis<br />

Club, of which he and Doreen were<br />

members.<br />

Derek Oldham is survived by his<br />

wife Doreen, children Jill, Janine and<br />

Jonathan, two grandchildren and two<br />


<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Women’s Voices is a series of<br />

conversations with women, who will<br />

share what has motivated them, what<br />

the challenges have been, and who has<br />

supported them along the way.<br />

29.09.<strong>2021</strong><br />

l 14:00-15:00 BST<br />


Director, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK<br />

13.10.<strong>2021</strong><br />

l 15:00-16:00 BST<br />


CEO, Central England <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative, UK<br />

24.11.<strong>2021</strong><br />

l Time TBC<br />


Director of the Social Security Unit at<br />

Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), India<br />

15.12.<strong>2021</strong><br />

l 09.30-10.30 GMT<br />


CEO, Business <strong>Co</strong>uncil of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives and Mutuals,<br />

Australia<br />


26 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />




The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate<br />

Change’s (IPCC) most recent assessment<br />

report, published on 9 August, concluded<br />

unequivocally that the current climate crisis<br />

is caused by human activities and is already<br />

affecting every corner of the planet’s land, air<br />

and sea.<br />

Produced by the world’s t<strong>op</strong> scientists and<br />

signed off by all the world’s governments,<br />

the report concluded that climate change is<br />

“widespread, rapid, and intensifying” and<br />

warned that 1C of heating has already occurred,<br />

getting perilously close to the 1.5C danger limit<br />

agreed in the Paris climate deal. This is caused<br />

by forest destruction, greenhouse gas emissions<br />

from burning fossil fuels and other human<br />

activities, the report says. Carbon dioxide levels<br />

in the air are now at their highest point for at<br />

least 2 million years, and the extreme heatwaves<br />

and heavy rains that have been increasing are set<br />

to continue.<br />

The UN secretary-general, António Guterres,<br />

said: “Today’s IPCC Working Group 1 Report<br />

is a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are<br />

deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable.”<br />

But he said there is still h<strong>op</strong>e – which lies<br />

in working together, collaborating, and co<strong>op</strong>erating.<br />

“The solutions are clear,” he said.<br />

“Inclusive and green economies, prosperity,<br />

cleaner air and better health are possible for<br />

all if we respond to this crisis with solidarity<br />

and courage. All nations, especially the G20<br />

and other major emitters, need to join the netzero<br />

emissions coalition and reinforce their<br />

commitments with credible, concrete and<br />

enhanced Nationally Determined <strong>Co</strong>ntributions<br />

and policies before COP26 in Glasgow. We need<br />

immediate action on energy.”<br />

The UN Climate Change <strong>Co</strong>nference of the<br />

Parties (COP26), is taking place in Glasgow<br />

on 1-12 November, and aims to “bring parties<br />

together to accelerate action towards the goals<br />

of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework<br />

<strong>Co</strong>nvention on Climate Change”.<br />

Mr Guterres added: “There is a clear moral<br />

and economic imperative to protect the lives<br />

and livelihoods of those on the front lines of<br />

the climate crisis […] We owe this to the entire<br />

human family, especially the poorest and most<br />

vulnerable communities and nations that are the<br />

hardest hit despite being least responsible for<br />

today’s climate emergency.”<br />

This sentiment was echoed by Ariel Guarco,<br />

president of the International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Alliance. “Global heating is affecting every<br />

region on Earth, with many of the changes<br />

becoming irreversible as said the IPCC in its<br />

report. But it says too that human actions still

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 27<br />

The report says<br />

that the increase in<br />

extreme events –<br />

including fires and<br />

flooding – are a<br />

result of human<br />

activity<br />

have ‘the potential to determine the future<br />

course of climate’,” he said.<br />

“As a generation, we have the duty to transform<br />

the way we produce and consume towards<br />

socially, economically and environmentally<br />

sustainable models. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives work for the<br />

sustainable devel<strong>op</strong>ment of their communities<br />

and can help make the needed shift. In co<strong>op</strong>eratives,<br />

the production and consumption are<br />

done putting the pe<strong>op</strong>le and the environment at<br />

the centre.”<br />

Rose Marley, chief executive of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

UK (the business network for UK co-<strong>op</strong>s) called<br />

the report “sobering reading”.<br />

“It’s clear ‘business as usual’ is not a viable<br />

response to the climate emergency,” she said.<br />

“Global government action is needed, but we<br />

don’t have to wait. Businesses – and indeed every<br />

single one of us – can take action today to reduce<br />

our carbon footprint. Many of our co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

members are already making changes – from the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group devel<strong>op</strong>ing the first compostable<br />

plastic bag to Greencity Wholefoods trialling<br />

deliveries by electric trike to reduce diesel<br />

emissions. We want to see all businesses, from<br />

PLCs to community businesses, following suit to<br />

take action for climate change.”<br />

Carbon dioxide levels in the air are now at<br />

their highest point for at least two million years,<br />

and the extreme heatwaves and heavy rains that<br />

have been increasing are set to continue.<br />











FOR CO-OPS?<br />

The findings of the Climate Report affect co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

around the world in different ways. For producer<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s, it is a stark reminder of the fragility of<br />

the environment on which cr<strong>op</strong>s and livestock<br />

depend; for retail co-<strong>op</strong>s, it highlights the critical<br />

importance of their action on supply chains and<br />

sustainability; and for energy co-<strong>op</strong>s, it shows<br />

the enormity of the task ahead.<br />

“Today’s report is unequivocal in its<br />

findings, highlighting how climate change<br />

is threatening every aspect of our lives – our<br />

economy, our prosperity and our wellbeing,”<br />

said Gemma Lacey, director of sustainability<br />

and communications at Southern <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative.<br />

“But if we act now, we can put things right. We<br />

all need to step up and play our part in halving<br />

greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, with targets<br />

rooted in science and we must act to restore<br />

nature and our natural environment.”<br />

She added: “<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration and collaboration<br />

will be key – now is the time for thinking<br />

and talking about how we as individuals,<br />

organisations and a co-<strong>op</strong>erative community can<br />

do more to work together to create a sustainable<br />

future. By sharing our plans, progress and<br />

solutions we can use our collective voice and<br />

actions to help drive the wide-scale change<br />

needed.”<br />

In June, Southern published climate plans<br />

that were praised as ‘ambitious’ by a collaboration<br />

of world-leading environmental organisations,<br />

the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).<br />

The targets include commitments to reduce<br />

greenhouse gas emissions that fall under its<br />

<strong>op</strong>erational control (such as electricity, gas, fuel<br />

and emissions associated with refrigeration) by<br />

50% by 2030 from a 2019 base year and to reduce<br />

emissions from managed trading businesses<br />

17% over the same target period. Southern has<br />

previously reduced its business carbon footprint<br />

by 27% between 2012 and 2019.<br />

This year the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group also published<br />

ambitious targets in a 10-Point Climate Plan to<br />

drive its goal of net-zero emissions by 2040 –<br />

and its goal of being the first supermarket in the<br />

world to sell fully carbon-neutral own brand food<br />

and drink by 2025. “This is a hugely significant

28 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

p Carbon dioxide<br />

levels in the air are<br />

now at their highest<br />

point for at least<br />

2 million years,<br />

and the extreme<br />

heatwaves and heavy<br />

rains that have been<br />

increasing are set to<br />

continue<br />

year and the world will be watching as the UK<br />

government hosts the largest climate change<br />

conference ever (COP-26),” said <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Food CEO,<br />

Jo Whitfield, at the time. “Just as the government<br />

must be ambitious in delivering against its own<br />

commitments, we must all be bold and take<br />

collective action to tackle climate change.”<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmenting on the IPCC report, Barry Clavin,<br />

sustainability lead at the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group, said: “We<br />

welcome [this report] as a sobering reminder of<br />

the challenges we face but also as an indicator of<br />

the <strong>op</strong>portunity that we still have to avoid some<br />

of the worst impacts.<br />






“As part of our new 10-Point Climate Plan<br />

we’re committed to reducing or have committed<br />

to reduce our total emissions as quickly as<br />

possible and to achieve net-zero by 2040, 10<br />

years ahead of international agreements. We’re<br />

also committed to working co-<strong>op</strong>eratively across<br />

sectors, and with governments, NGOs and<br />

consumers because the vast changes that are<br />

required at pace are about ensuring that we can<br />

protect our environment and to give current and<br />

future generations a half-decent chance for a<br />

fairer and more sustainable world.”<br />


The energy sector is a key contributor to climate<br />

change, accounting for more than two-thirds of<br />

global greenhouse gas emissions. <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

and co-<strong>op</strong>erative energy organisations have<br />

been key drivers in promoting and establishing<br />

renewable energy sources, but the report shows<br />

a long and difficult road ahead, with action<br />

needed immediately.<br />

“The IPCC Report shows us above all that<br />

there is no time to waste,” said Emma Bridge,<br />

chief executive of <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Energy England.<br />

“We can limit global<br />

temperature rises to 1.5<br />

degrees, but to do that<br />

we need to act now. As<br />

an IPCC member state,<br />

the UK government has<br />

endorsed the report’s<br />

findings, so must<br />

now act with greatly<br />

increased urgency and<br />

effectiveness. Net Zero will only be achieved<br />

if everybody is actively engaged in creating<br />

and ad<strong>op</strong>ting climate solutions. <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

energy is essential to that engagement and to<br />

local action on Net Zero. With COP26 on the<br />

horizon, the government must actively enable<br />

the potential of community energy by providing<br />

the sector with real support.”<br />

Dirk Vansintjan, president of RESco<strong>op</strong> (the<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>ean federation of citizen energy co<strong>op</strong>eratives),<br />

also highlighted the vital need to<br />

act quickly. “The new ICPP report reveals once

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 29<br />

more that the next couple of years will be crucial<br />

if we are to address the climate crisis,” he said.<br />

“We need to see radical changes in the way<br />

energy is generated and used. Citizen support<br />

will be critical in achieving that transition,<br />

and co-<strong>op</strong>eratives are the best way we know of<br />

mobilising them.”<br />

Mr Vansintjan added: “The climate situation<br />

is urgent, the need for action never greater.<br />

With the new EU directives featured in the Clean<br />

Energy for All Eur<strong>op</strong>eans legislative package<br />

(CEP), everything has been put in place for<br />

member states to devel<strong>op</strong> enabling frameworks<br />

through which energy communities can thrive<br />

and prosper.<br />

“Unfortunately, the new draft guidelines on<br />

state aid for climate, environmental protection<br />

and energy (CEEAG) do little to align with that<br />

approach. The CEEAG needs to provide clear<br />

and positive guidance so that member states<br />

are able to innovate in designing RES support<br />

schemes that can help jump-start community<br />

ownership of renewables production in their<br />

energy markets.”<br />

In the UK, Midcounties <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative has<br />

introduced a range of measures to reduce its<br />

carbon footprint in its different businesses<br />

(including food, pharmacy, funeralcare,<br />

childcare, and utilities) – and through its <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

Energy business, has been a long-standing<br />

supporter of community power.<br />

“We support more than 100 renewable<br />

community energy projects across the UK,<br />

enabling our members and customers to live<br />

low carbon and socially responsible lifestyles<br />

through the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Energy <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Power tariff,” said Mike Pickering, co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

social responsibility manager at Midcounties.<br />

“We’re also working with co-<strong>op</strong>s around the<br />

world to make a positive difference, supporting<br />

Fairtrade and initiatives in areas where pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

are already profoundly feeling the effects of<br />

climate change in their daily lives.”<br />

He highlighted that while the IPCC report lays<br />

bare the extent of the climate emergency we<br />

face, it also shows that if we work together now<br />

to reduce emissions we can still prevent the<br />

worst impacts of climate change.<br />

“This has long been a focus for co-<strong>op</strong>s, and we<br />

know it’s a priority for our members, colleagues<br />

and customers,” he said. “We know through<br />

our co-<strong>op</strong>erative values that by working in<br />

partnership with others we can make an even<br />

bigger difference.<br />

“It is vital that today’s report acts as a wakeup<br />

call for everyone, and at Midcounties we<br />

stand ready to work with other co-<strong>op</strong>s across<br />

the UK and around the world to go further<br />

and faster in our efforts to create a sustainable<br />

future for all.”<br />

q Solar panels on<br />

the roof of a German<br />

kindergarten building:<br />

‘Citizen support will<br />

be critical in achieving<br />

that transition, and<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives are the<br />

best way we know of<br />

mobilising them’

30 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />



How co-<strong>op</strong>s can help with climate targets<br />

by ANCA VOINEA<br />

p Solar power<br />

plant in the city of<br />

Križevci launched<br />

following a successful<br />

crowdfunding<br />

campaign led<br />

by Green Energy<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Credit: Green Energy<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

With Croatia setting an ambitious renewable<br />

energy target for 2030, a local co-<strong>op</strong>erative is<br />

trying to encourage more citizens to get involved<br />

in clean energy projects.<br />

Set up in 2016, the Green Energy <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

grew out of the United Nations Devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

Programme in Croatia and acts as a support<br />

organisation for groups looking to devel<strong>op</strong><br />

renewable energy projects.<br />

Through its National and Climate Plan (NECP),<br />

Croatia has set a renewable energy target for<br />

2030 of 36.4%, up from 28% at present.<br />

“Our mission is to support cities and their<br />

citizens in devel<strong>op</strong>ing, investing, and utilising<br />

renewable sources of energy. We do that through<br />

a variety of projects (EU-funded) and our<br />

services,” says Kristina Lauš, communications<br />

manager at the Green Energy <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative (ZEZ).<br />

One of the projects the co-<strong>op</strong> runs is SOL4ALL,<br />

which aims to make it easier for Croatian citizens<br />

to invest and install small solar PV systems in<br />

their homes by providing them full support in<br />

the process. The co-<strong>op</strong>erative’s goal is to enable<br />

10MW of installed solar PV capacity across the<br />

Western Balkans, and by doing so, increase the<br />

resilience of cities, encourage a just economic<br />

recovery and create green jobs.<br />

“This project has been recognised within the<br />

Google.org Impact Challenge for Central and<br />

Eastern Eur<strong>op</strong>e <strong>2021</strong>, meaning we have won a<br />

grant and support from Google.org to further<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> the service, particularly in terms of its<br />

digital aspect and market devel<strong>op</strong>ment,” adds<br />

Ms Lauš.<br />

Other projects of the co-<strong>op</strong> include a<br />

Crowdfunding Academy, the first integrated<br />

crowdfunding education programme in SE<br />

Eur<strong>op</strong>e. The academy has so far trained over<br />

500 students, who learnt about how launch a<br />

successful crowdfunding campaign. Another<br />

project, Agrifficiency sees the Green Energy<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative work with agriculture producers<br />

and processors, providing technical support<br />

and finance to enable them to implement green<br />

energy projects.<br />

So far, the Green Energy <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative has 20<br />

members, who are employees, supporters and<br />

industry experts. Part of its work also focuses on<br />

awareness raising, given that co-<strong>op</strong>eratives are<br />

not the go-to <strong>op</strong>tion for most pe<strong>op</strong>le.<br />

“A part of our work is getting pe<strong>op</strong>le to learn<br />

about this and showing them by example what<br />

can that mean in practice,” explains Ms Lauš.<br />

The co-<strong>op</strong>erative is also working on several<br />

research and devel<strong>op</strong>ment projects, exploring<br />

how smart meters or Blockchain technology

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 31<br />

can be used for peer-to-peer trading or the<br />

management of energy communities.<br />

“All of this work is supporting the transition to<br />

democratising the energy and allowing citizens<br />

cheaper energy and also feeds into the policy<br />

and EU directives that Croatia is trying to ad<strong>op</strong>t,”<br />

says Erica Svetec, project manager at the co<strong>op</strong>erative.<br />

The Green Energy <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative is one of<br />

Croatia’s ten energy co-<strong>op</strong>s, which mostly focus<br />

on supporting groups who want to devel<strong>op</strong><br />

renewable energy projects.<br />

One of the main barriers preventing these<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s from directly participating in the joint<br />

production, consumption, and sharing of<br />

electricity is legislation.<br />

The country is in the process of amending<br />

the existing Act on Renewable Energy Sources<br />

and High-efficiency <strong>Co</strong>generation, which will<br />

enable energy communities, including co-<strong>op</strong>s,<br />

to participate in the market. Under the draft law<br />

an energy community is defined as a legal entity<br />

based on voluntary and <strong>op</strong>en participation,<br />

which is controlled by members or shareholders<br />

and exists to provide environmental, economic<br />

or social benefits to its<br />

members or shareholders<br />

or local areas in which<br />

it <strong>op</strong>erates. Therefore,<br />

the establishment of a<br />

community is limited to<br />

a specific area, which<br />

could make it difficult for<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s to attract sufficient<br />

members.<br />

“This provision of<br />

the law will initially limit the potential for the<br />

establishment and devel<strong>op</strong>ment of the Energy<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunities and the activities of the Green<br />

Energy <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative in the coming period will<br />

be aimed at pointing out this illogicality and<br />

advocating the legislator to mitigate or abolish<br />

this provision,” says Ms Lauš.<br />

Furthermore, the law requires members of<br />

energy communities to be connected to the same<br />

low voltage transformer station 10 (20) / 0.4 kV.<br />

Thus, in addition to being located in the same<br />

local government area, energy communities must<br />

be connected to the same transformer station,<br />

which further narrows the number of potential<br />

members, especially for sparsely p<strong>op</strong>ulated areas<br />

in Croatia, explains Ms Lauš.<br />

The bill also lacks clarifications on the required<br />

legal form of the Energy <strong>Co</strong>mmunity, mentioning<br />

that an energy community can be established<br />

as a legal entity that <strong>op</strong>erates on the basis of<br />

the law governing the financial <strong>op</strong>erations and<br />

accounting of non-profit organisations.<br />

“In order to avoid additional complications<br />

in business, tax, and financial treatment, it is<br />

necessary to clearly define what legal form the<br />

Energy <strong>Co</strong>mmunity can be and how its business<br />

is conducted,” adds Ms Lauš.<br />

Another barrier for the sector is the fact that<br />

most pe<strong>op</strong>le in Croatia associate co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

with forced collectivisation and the old<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunist System of the Socialist Federative<br />




CO-OPS”<br />

Republic of Yugoslavia, of which Croatia was part.<br />

“In addition to these ambiguities in the<br />

legal definition and potentially tax and<br />

financial treatment, there are socio-cultural<br />

challenges. We witness a lack of awareness and<br />

knowledge about the potential of such a form of<br />

organisation, non-recognition of co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

as an organisational form, and lack of systematic<br />

support. Although Croatia has a rich history<br />

when it comes to co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, a certain amount<br />

of scepticism towards this type of organisation<br />

is present due to them being perceived as an<br />

unwanted remnant of the socialist economy.<br />

New Electricity Market Law is an <strong>op</strong>portunity to<br />

change that, but it is necessary to invest effort<br />

into the establishment of good examples of<br />

Energy <strong>Co</strong>mmunities, through which citizens will<br />

be shown plastically and transparently how they<br />

work in practice and what are all the benefits<br />

and potential risks for their involvement,” says<br />

Ms Lauš.<br />

p Kristina Lauš<br />

talking to members of<br />

the public at a local<br />


32 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

How the co-<strong>op</strong> movement gave students the<br />




The first student housing co-<strong>op</strong> in south-east<br />

England has drawn on the support of the wider<br />

movement to secure its first pr<strong>op</strong>erty – and h<strong>op</strong>es<br />

to set an example to encourage more co-<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

in its area.<br />

Seasalt (South-East Students Autonomously<br />

Living Together) housing co-<strong>op</strong>, which is getting<br />

ready for its first tenants next month, has worked<br />

closely with Brighton & Hove <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Land<br />

Trust (BHCLT) on the venture.<br />

BHCLT bought the pr<strong>op</strong>erty, which will be taken<br />

up on a seven-year lease by Seasalt which is the<br />

fifth project in the UK to establish a co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

model of homes for students, collectively<br />

managed and at affordable rents.<br />

The student housing co-<strong>op</strong> movement<br />

aims to offer an alternative to the private<br />

rental market, offering lower rents and betterquality<br />

accommodation. They are designed<br />

to allow tenants to pool their resources to<br />

create community-style homes where everyone<br />

collaborates for mutual benefit. The rent paid is<br />

only used to cover the upkeep of the house (lease,<br />

bills, repairs, etc.) and not to enrich landlords.<br />

Seasalt has also enjoyed advice and support<br />

from Brighton’s community pub, the Bevy – who<br />

said: “The Bevy as a community-owned pub is a<br />

great example of how an area can really benefit<br />

from collective ownership. We are excited about<br />

working with Seasalt and helping the students<br />

become a real part of the wider Moulsecoomb<br />

community.”<br />

Student housing co-<strong>op</strong>s have already enjoyed<br />

help from the wider co-<strong>op</strong> movement. Last year,<br />

retail co-<strong>op</strong> Heart of England invested £100,000<br />

in a community share offer from Student <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong><br />

Homes (SCH) – the national body set up to grow<br />

the student co-<strong>op</strong> housing market.<br />

And Birmingham Student Housing <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> was<br />

launched in 2014 with support from the Phone<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>, which was an enthusiastic backer of the<br />

movement.<br />

The rise of student housing co-<strong>op</strong>s comes in<br />

response to increasing difficulty in the rental<br />

market. Brighton University lecturer Rebecca<br />

Searle has warned: “High rents are causing<br />

significant inequalities in education. Those<br />

students whose families are able to support them<br />

are able to devote considerably more time to their<br />

studies than those who are having to work long<br />

hours to cover their rents.”<br />

Responsibility for maintenance and long-term<br />

plans for the new pr<strong>op</strong>erty is shared between<br />

the two organisations, with SEASALT having full<br />

autonomy in the day-to-day running, membership<br />

of the co-<strong>op</strong>erative and the life of the community.<br />

Both organisations have made commitments to<br />

prioritising energy efficiency and environmental<br />

sustainability in the use of the home.<br />

Seasalt are also looking to be good neighbours:<br />

who says it feels strongly about the importance of<br />

community, they will allow their members to stay<br />

for the duration of their studies plus a year after<br />

graduation. This will give them the <strong>op</strong>portunity

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 33<br />

to build relationships with their neighbours and<br />

escape short-term tenancies that students and the<br />

community around them find disruptive.<br />

Each new member will sign up to Seasalt’s<br />

community promise and not wanting to take up<br />

family housing was the main driver behind the<br />

group looking for larger pr<strong>op</strong>erties.<br />

Funding to buy the pr<strong>op</strong>erty was secured<br />

through a mortgage from another key player in the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> economy, Ecology Building Society, and a<br />

successful community share<br />

offer which raised £336,200<br />

from over 140 investors.<br />

The plan is to buy a second<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erty in two to three<br />

years, creating more homes<br />

that will be out of private<br />

ownership and affordable,<br />

secure and sustainable in<br />

the long term.<br />

Jon Lee, who leads on Ecology Building<br />

Society’s support for community and co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

housing, said: “As a longstanding supporter of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative housing we were delighted to be<br />

asked to support Brighton and Hove <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Land Trust’s partnership with Seasalt to deliver<br />

affordable, energy efficient and quality rental<br />

accommodation for students.<br />

Ecology specialises in supporting projects<br />

which respect the environment and enable<br />

sustainable communities and has pioneered<br />

innovative 40-year mortgages for housing co<strong>op</strong>eratives,<br />

helping to maintain rents at affordable<br />

levels.<br />

“As a member-owned mutual ourselves, it’s<br />

fantastic to be part of this ground-breaking<br />

project which we h<strong>op</strong>e will pave the way for many<br />

more co-<strong>op</strong>erative student housing schemes<br />

throughout the UK.”<br />

The problems with student accommodation<br />

are endemic of the wider issues with the housing<br />

market in this country. Seasalt said: “As young<br />

pe<strong>op</strong>le, we have grown up in a country where<br />

the impacts of the financial crash, resulting<br />

austerity and a profit driven neoliberal system<br />

have dispr<strong>op</strong>ortionately impacted disadvantaged<br />

communities, including us. The mass sell-off of<br />

public land and unequal land ownership have<br />

given rise to a financialised housing market with<br />

accommodation and rent prices spiralling faster<br />

than inflation.<br />

“For students, these issues are only enhanced<br />

as landlords and letting agents look to exploit our<br />

inexperience and precarious, insecure situations,<br />

frequently to make maximum profit for minimum<br />

effort. This means that student accommodation<br />

often exemplifies the worst aspects of housing in<br />

this country. Thus, it is very difficult to break the<br />

yearly cycle of renting with private landlords who<br />

usually have no incentive to improve student living<br />

conditions or tackle big issues such as the carbon<br />

emissions and accessibility of their housing stock.<br />

“By empowering our students to take control of<br />

their accommodation, we have taken the first steps<br />

towards building a fairer and more equal future<br />

across Brighton and Hove, putting the needs of<br />

our local community first. So, not only do we want<br />





to provide affordable, sustainable and democratic<br />

solutions to housing, we also want to demonstrate<br />

how co-<strong>op</strong>s and the co-<strong>op</strong>erative economy can<br />

help solve the big issues of our time. This could<br />

include climate change and sustainability, wealth<br />

and land inequality, democratising our economy<br />

or, of course, our housing crisis. That’s how we fit<br />

into the bigger picture, because after all, if we a<br />

small group of students can make big change in<br />

our community, why can’t you?”<br />

Janet Crome, director of BHCLT, added: “We<br />

have really enjoyed working with these inspiring<br />

students, who have given so much passion and<br />

time to the project, even though some of them may<br />

not live in the house themselves. We look forward<br />

to a long and fruitful and enjoyable partnership<br />

with them and watching them thrive.”

34 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

New bid to scale up the<br />




A group of co-<strong>op</strong>erators are working on plans for<br />

a national, community-owned pub organisation,<br />

and are currently looking for seed funding to<br />

begin its start-up process.<br />

The idea behind the Pe<strong>op</strong>le’s Pub Partnership<br />

is for a national multi-stakeholder co-<strong>op</strong><br />

which will raise a pool of finance through<br />

crowdfunding to help communities buy out<br />

struggling pubs, backed by additional local<br />

crowdfunders.<br />

The team – led by experienced publicans<br />

J Mark Dodds and Damon Horrill – are currently<br />

working on a REACH fund application; they are<br />

looking for £35,000 in seed funding to bring it to<br />

bring the idea to investment readiness.<br />

Mr Dodds says his own experience in the pub<br />

trade saw him take on a struggling London local,<br />

the Sun and Doves, in 1995, and turn it into an<br />

award-winning pub, but also taught him harsh<br />

lessons about working in the tied pub sector,<br />

with tenant landlords subject to extractive<br />

business practices.<br />

Between 2006 and 2008 he became involved<br />

in the campaign to scrap the beer ties that were<br />

driving pub tenants to the wall, with supporters<br />

including the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)<br />

and the co-<strong>op</strong> movement. This led to the 2016<br />

pub code, introduced by the government to<br />

regulate the tied sector, but Mr Dodds says this<br />

was ineffective –leading him to look for an<br />

alternative solution.<br />

This would be “a radical pub company that’s<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>erly fit for 21st century purpose. Think a<br />

blend of Brewdog, the John Lewis Partnership<br />

and <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Local.”<br />

The plan would see a managed pub company<br />

established first, probably expanding its sc<strong>op</strong>e of<br />

<strong>op</strong>erations to leased and tenanted and franchise.

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 35<br />

The brief suggests one pub per community<br />

catchment, with each individual pub business<br />

becoming an investor in an Open Capital<br />

partnership (LLP). Surplus would be reinvested<br />

in purchasing or investing in more pubs.<br />

It would follow a simple structure, with<br />

no involvement with <strong>op</strong>erations or supply of<br />

products. The brief considers the possibility of<br />

the purchase of the commercial pr<strong>op</strong>erty estates<br />

of pubs like Global Mutual did last year from EI<br />

Group – picking up 370 pubs for £350m.<br />





“There are a lot of pubs and their communities<br />

that need to be saved from the ravages of private<br />

equity greed,” said Mr Dodds. “Pub companies<br />

are run by extractive hedge funds – they are<br />

asset-sweating British pubs and closing them<br />

down.”<br />

He says this is a matter of urgency, with the<br />

pub sector already in crisis before it was hit by<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 pandemic.<br />

“Every tied pub is by default run down,<br />

knackered, in need of refurbishment – the<br />

kitchens and heating systems often aren’t up to<br />

scratch.<br />

“If it needs a new boiler, the tenant can’t<br />

afford it. If we can acquire the sites it would be<br />

a good <strong>op</strong>portunity to get of their gas and oil<br />

fired systems; we would carry out a low carbon<br />

retrofit.<br />

“And we would use only local resources and<br />

beers – get rid of global brands unless they can<br />

give guarantees that they <strong>op</strong>erate sustainable<br />

supply chains.”<br />

Local involvement would come from the start,<br />

he added, with the community deciding what<br />

happens in the pub, but with a professional<br />

overview from those experienced in the pub<br />

trade, who know how to keep and sell beer and<br />

manage the clientele.<br />

Mr Dodds says that under the plan, each pub<br />

would pay a national living wage and run a fair<br />

pay ratio; sites would be run independently with<br />

head office organising back office functions, as a<br />

secondary co-<strong>op</strong>, for the whole network – taking<br />

care of admin, accounting, training, branding<br />

and marketing.<br />

“The licensee would have secure long term job<br />

as an employee. We’d also work to tackle the lack<br />

of experience, skills and diversity in the industry,<br />

and address the lack of access to market from<br />

local brewers.<br />

“We have crises running in parallel – affecting<br />

community, pubs and climate. We need<br />

something to bring them together so they can be<br />

managed at human level pe<strong>op</strong>le can relate to.”<br />

But Mr Dodds says there are also barriers to<br />

overcome within the co-<strong>op</strong> movement itself,<br />

citing the often-heard lament that it “doesn’t co<strong>op</strong>erate<br />

and doesn’t move”, which has in the past<br />

hampered his efforts to establish a secondary<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> for the sector. Meanwhile, he warns, the<br />

existing community pub model faces potential<br />

weaknesses – with the risk of volunteer burnout,<br />

lack of knowledge of how to pr<strong>op</strong>erly run a<br />

pub, and a lack of profitability.<br />

“There are some very good ones but if all<br />

community pubs were invested in and pr<strong>op</strong>erly<br />

run they would be thriving.”<br />

It’s an ambitious plan: Mr Dodds estimates<br />

the venture would need to raise £500,000 per<br />

pub – “to get any pub up and running fossil<br />

fuel free that is”. He wants to see a “big plan,<br />

go to whole country to crowdfund capital – a<br />

national community share issue – along with £1<br />

memberships. It would be a national campaign<br />

to save Britain’s pubs.”<br />

The pubs would be protected by an asset lock,<br />

with a dividend paid to investors on the amount<br />

of equity they have put in; he’d like to see 4%<br />

paid on capital invested.<br />

“If you want to take your money back out,<br />

you’d give two or three months’ notice; your<br />

shares would be sold among membership or the<br />

company would buy them back; but there would<br />

be no capital gains.”<br />

A steering group – which includes experienced<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erators Vivian Woodell and Dave Boyle – are<br />

working on the seed fund application which will<br />

bring the pr<strong>op</strong>osition to investment readiness –<br />

paying for legal structures, branding, marketing<br />

and Youtube videos.<br />

“The challenge is there has been no pub co<br />

like this before,” warns Mr Dodds. “It needs team<br />

of pe<strong>op</strong>le who know finance and pr<strong>op</strong>erty and<br />

want it to happen. Pub experts should be on the<br />

ground in the pubs.<br />

But – in a time when national life is marked<br />

by polarisation and social isolation, the model<br />

would continue the aspirations of community<br />

pubs to offer social value. Mr Dodds h<strong>op</strong>es the<br />

move will “revive the world’s original social<br />

network” and offer venues to “curate the national<br />


36 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />





‘<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration among <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives’ is a core<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> principle. But as society and business<br />

types evolve, and other ‘for-purpose’ organisations<br />

emerge, shouldn’t co-<strong>op</strong>s be <strong>op</strong>en to working<br />

more closely with other business models?<br />

One person well placed to answer this is Lord<br />

Victor Adebowale, a director of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group<br />

and chair of Social Enterprise UK (SEUK, the<br />

national body for social enterprise), who started<br />

his career volunteering at Newham <strong>Co</strong>mmunity<br />

Housing <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative in east London.<br />

“Very early on, co-<strong>op</strong>s seemed to me to be a<br />

very sensible, very progressive thing,” he says.<br />

While co-<strong>op</strong>eratives trace their roots to groups<br />

such as the Rochdale Pioneers (1845) and the<br />

Fenwick Weavers (1761), social enterprises were<br />

first devel<strong>op</strong>ed as a distinct concept in the late<br />

1970s, during attempts to steer economic criteria<br />

from capital to social interest. Today SEUK<br />

describes social enterprises as ‘businesses with<br />

a social or environmental mission’.<br />




A 2019 report from SEUK, supported by the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Group and Nationwide Building Society,<br />

stated there are 100,000 social enterprises in<br />

the UK, contributing £60bn to the UK economy<br />

and employing 2 million pe<strong>op</strong>le. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

UK’s <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Economy Report <strong>2021</strong> revealed the<br />

country has over 7,000 independent co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

businesses, with a combined turnover of<br />

£39.7bn, employing more than 250,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le.<br />

Social enterprise is the fastest growing form<br />

of business in the UK, and the fastest growing<br />

form of employment (four jobs for one created<br />

in a traditional business), and they also <strong>op</strong>erate<br />

in the poorest communities, employing<br />

black pe<strong>op</strong>le and women in leadership positions.<br />

He is shocked at the lack of diversity in<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s. “Why is the leadership of the co-<strong>op</strong><br />

movement so white? Diverse businesses make<br />

better decisions and diverse leaderships reach<br />

more pe<strong>op</strong>le. It is unjust and unhealthy to have<br />

a movement like this which is only led by one<br />

monoculture. It’s inefficient and inappr<strong>op</strong>riate.<br />

We need to be brave enough to ask why this has<br />

happened, to arrive at the correct answer, and<br />

then we need to do something about it.”<br />


Some co-<strong>op</strong>erative activists are irritated by the<br />

way phrases such as ‘social enterprise’, ‘community<br />

businesses’, and ‘employee ownership’ are<br />

seemingly used as synonyms for ‘co-<strong>op</strong>erative’,<br />

which could potentially devalue co-<strong>op</strong> identity.<br />

Others view both co-<strong>op</strong>s and social enterprises<br />

as important forms of mutual business and are<br />

in turn irritated at the perceived exclusivity of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s – which in their view could help account<br />

for the general lack of public awareness.<br />

“For me, the similarities between co-<strong>op</strong>s and<br />

social enterprises are far more interesting than<br />

the differences,” says Lord Victor. “Both are a<br />

form of mutuality, in the philos<strong>op</strong>hical sense.<br />

They are engaged with connection, community,<br />

culture, and sustainability – both economic<br />

as well as environmental. Both challenge the<br />

orthodoxy of individualism that is going to<br />

wreck the planet; we have common calls in<br />

that regard.”<br />

The two models are “different forms of doing<br />

the same thing”, he says, with that thing being a<br />

collective effort to formulate progress.<br />

“I’m interested in intention and process. If the<br />

intention of a co-<strong>op</strong> is collective distribution and<br />

ownership, then the process by which it delivers<br />

that seems to me to make sense. Similarly,<br />

if the intention of social enterprises is accountability,<br />

responsibility, collective ownership and<br />

sustainability, the process seems to match that.<br />

“Don’t get me wrong, you do need a certain<br />

legal frame and governance, but I think that

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 37<br />

sometimes process can become more important<br />

than the intention. In my view, it’s one of<br />

the reasons why co-<strong>op</strong>s are a niche thing when<br />

in fact we should be, and at one point were, the<br />

p<strong>op</strong>ular form.”<br />

He takes no truck with pe<strong>op</strong>le who seek to<br />

create separation between organisations who<br />

have a shared basic vision. “We haven’t got time<br />

for that. It’s not a war. It’s and/and not either/<br />

or. It’s a case of a common view of the progressive<br />

economy, within which commerce serves<br />

a purpose, that we look to impress upon the<br />

economy a set of values. The form that we<br />

choose is largely a matter of choice. We need<br />

to spend less time naval-gazing and more time<br />

holding hands.”<br />


One of the reasons for his impatience is an acute<br />

awareness of the climate emergency. “We’ve got<br />

10 years. The worse the problem gets, the more<br />

extreme the responses are going to need to be,”<br />

he says. “These pe<strong>op</strong>le who think we’ve got<br />

some choices need to be reminded that the more<br />

time we spend making them, the less choices<br />

we have about what we’re going to have to do.<br />

Business models need to change and economies<br />

need to change, and the sustainable models that<br />

we need to change to are staring us in the face<br />

[...] We need a mixed economy, which is more<br />

balanced towards social enterprises and co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

than it is at the moment.”<br />

What’s holding co-<strong>op</strong>s back, he thinks,<br />

is a tendency to be “too inward looking, too<br />

obsessed with nomenclature and less with<br />

purpose and intention”.<br />

“In many other countries, particularly African<br />

countries, co-<strong>op</strong>s are thriving. In Spain,<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>s are sitting around the table with ministers<br />

and policymakers. In this country? Nada.<br />

Why? We’re too insular, too closed, too obsessed<br />

with the rules, less obsessed with the purpose<br />

of the rules.”<br />

He likens the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement to a<br />

private club more interested in its own survival<br />

than its purpose. “The purpose of co-<strong>op</strong>s was<br />

never to create a self perpetuating clique of<br />

insiders, they were meant to improve communities.”<br />

So what do we do about this? “Firstly, invest<br />

in and appoint more pe<strong>op</strong>le like [<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

UK CEO] Rose Marley, who can communicate,<br />

who can express themselves, who have a strategy<br />

which is inclusive, not exclusive, and who<br />

have a mission and values that align with different<br />

movements. Her appearance on <strong>News</strong>night<br />

a few weeks ago was the first time I’ve seen a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> leader on that programme who explains<br />

in plain English and speaks to an audience<br />

beyond the co-<strong>op</strong> bubble. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s need to grow<br />

presence, relevance and passion. They need<br />

to be inclusive, not exclusive. They need to be<br />

reaching out to other businesses.<br />

“Secondly, take a look at the rules, because<br />

there’s something that’s st<strong>op</strong>ping pe<strong>op</strong>le from<br />

joining co-<strong>op</strong> particularly amongst the young,<br />

and I suspect it’s in part the labyrinthine,<br />

Gormenghast-type practices. Young pe<strong>op</strong>le are<br />

crying out for a model which is credible, because<br />

they know the current model of our economy is<br />

incredible, and it’s them who will suffer. Yes<br />

there are some young pe<strong>op</strong>le involved in co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

but it’s not a mass movement. We’re not making<br />

it attractive, we’re not making it easy. It should<br />

be the easiest thing in the world to form, work<br />

for or join a co-<strong>op</strong> – it should be easier than falling<br />

off a log.”<br />

He adds: “I know pe<strong>op</strong>le get very passionate<br />

about co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and co-<strong>op</strong> models and the<br />

rules, and I’m seen as a bit of an outsider. But<br />

I’ve spent a lot of time, including my formative<br />

years, with co <strong>op</strong>s. I can just see things from<br />

the outside, and it doesn’t look too sweet. But<br />

as a model of commerce, co-<strong>op</strong>s have the potential<br />

to change the way the country <strong>op</strong>erates its<br />

economy and save the planet. There aren’t many<br />

other ideas currently running that can do that.”

38 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />





u Mike Mercer<br />

NCBA CLUSA, the national sector body for co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

in the USA, has been exploring ways to drive<br />

Principle 6 – co-<strong>op</strong>eration among co-<strong>op</strong>s – in a<br />

series of weekly newsletters.<br />

The online posts include a rallying call to<br />

the movement from one of its leading figures<br />

in the US, Mike Mercer, who wants to see more<br />

investment by co-<strong>op</strong>eratives to help other co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

through start-ups and scale-ups.<br />

Mr Mercer – former CEO of Georgia Credit<br />

Union Affiliates who has chaired the boards of<br />

the Credit Union National Association (CUNA),<br />

American Association of Credit Union Leagues<br />

and National <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Bank (NCB) – says this<br />

will help to address the difficulty co-<strong>op</strong>s have in<br />

raising capital, often cited as a key barrier to the<br />

growth of the movement.<br />

“The great irony of the ‘co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

moment’ is that co-<strong>op</strong>erators invest their<br />

money in the corporations that they admonish<br />

for being extractive, the government that<br />

they regard as being too political, and the<br />

real estate that they advocate members<br />

should share,” he wrote.<br />

Mr Mercer identified at a number of solutions<br />

– from making more use of the investment<br />

potential of co-<strong>op</strong> members to devel<strong>op</strong>ing pools<br />

of “patient capital”, where investors are prepared<br />

to wait longer for returns on their money.<br />

“Other groups like Zebras Unite and Seed<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmons are taking a systemic approach to<br />

organising, assisting and funding for co-<strong>op</strong>s,” he<br />

wrote. “These and other initiatives … are working<br />

with players from across the co-<strong>op</strong> space to<br />

design solutions to the co-<strong>op</strong> capital challenge.<br />

“NCBA CLUSA and the National <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Bank are convening discussions soon that will<br />

bring together some of the capital innovators<br />

with leaders from the established co-<strong>op</strong> sectors<br />

to explore the possibility of setting up a national<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> capital mechanism that brings co-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

together across the sectors to help solve for the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> capital challenge.”<br />

He added: “Most co-<strong>op</strong>erators believe in<br />

but are not really investors in co-<strong>op</strong>s. Beyond<br />

membership shares and membership fees, there<br />

isn’t any easy way to become a financial investor<br />

in a co-<strong>op</strong>.”<br />

A lack of knowledge between different silos<br />

of the co-<strong>op</strong> movement hampers this sort of<br />

investment, he added. “What would compel<br />

a member/leader of a food co-<strong>op</strong>, let’s say, to<br />

become an investor in a childcare co-<strong>op</strong>? What<br />

does a credit union exec know about a worker<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>?”<br />

There are other problems too. “Enabling<br />

instruments and structures are still in the early<br />

innovation stage. Laws and regulations could be<br />

more helpful.”<br />

His pr<strong>op</strong>osed solution is intermediation. “The<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> system could benefit from a well-resourced<br />

capital sourcing facility. And such a facility<br />

should enable co-<strong>op</strong>erators and the co-<strong>op</strong>s that<br />

they guide (especially the large ones) to become<br />

investors in new co-<strong>op</strong> devel<strong>op</strong>ment and earlystage<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> scale-up.”

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 39<br />





Citing Vancity CU and VSECU as credit unions<br />

willing to invest in co-<strong>op</strong>s, Mr Mercer argued:<br />

“The co-<strong>op</strong> system should become more of a<br />

circular economic engine. Risk can be managed<br />

collaboratively, and return should be generous,<br />

paid out over time from successful co-<strong>op</strong><br />

<strong>op</strong>erations. A co-<strong>op</strong> capital sourcing facility<br />

would be a major evidence of co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

identity and a significant cross-sector exercise of<br />

Principle 6.”<br />

In another edition of the newsletter, Mr<br />

Mercer reminds the movement that the Rochdale<br />

Pioneers “learned quickly that an ecosystem of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative enterprises could help members<br />

more than simply staying focused on making<br />

good flour”.<br />

He argued that improved collaboration<br />

between the co-<strong>op</strong> and credit union sectors,<br />

would help to “address jobs, health, elder care,<br />

childcare, housing, and the other challenges<br />

that impact the financial wellbeing of members”.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s and credit unions should work together<br />

to press the advantages of their reputation<br />

“honesty providers”, he wrote.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>mmitment to <strong>op</strong>portunity, fairness and<br />

inclusivity extends beyond the walls of the credit<br />

union,” he added. The member begins to look<br />

more like a person in search of a better life –<br />

and a little less like a customer measured on a<br />

product penetration scale.<br />

He said NCBA CLUSA is working on an<br />

initiative to help co-<strong>op</strong>s “identify the ways that<br />

a nation full of honesty providers can work<br />

together to elevate the value created for co-<strong>op</strong><br />

members.<br />

“This project is now known as the Principle 6<br />

Initiative, which you’ll hear more about in the<br />

months ahead.”<br />

t Zebras Unite is one<br />

of the organisations<br />

working to improve the<br />

capital landscape for<br />


40 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

Lessons to learn from the demutualisation of<br />



Anca Voinea<br />

Economical Mutual Insurance, a Canadian<br />

mutual insurer set up 145 years ago, has<br />

received approval from policy holders to<br />

demutualise, a move pending approval from<br />

the finance minister. The plans to demutualise<br />

were approved at the third and final special<br />

meeting on demutualisation, which was held<br />

virtually in May. At the meeting 97% of eligible<br />

policyholders voted in favour of proceeding with<br />

demutualisation.<br />

Board chair John Bowey said at the time: “This<br />

is an important day in our 150-year history, as<br />

we are one significant step closer to completing<br />

the demutualisation process, which will allow<br />

Economical to unlock our full potential as<br />

a strong, Canadian competitor in a rapidly<br />

changing industry.”<br />

The decision was facilitated by Economical<br />

Mutual’s dual class membership structure,<br />

through which around 900 policy holders were<br />

members with 60,000 not members.<br />

Economical Mutual says the average<br />

eligible mutual policyholder could receive<br />

demutualisation benefits with an approximate<br />

value of CA$300,000 to $430,000, while the<br />

average eligible non-mutual policyholder<br />

could receive demutualisation benefits with an<br />

approximate value of $1,500 to $2,300. Another<br />

$100m of the proceeds of demutualisation<br />

have been allocated to fund a new charitable<br />

foundation.<br />

Fear of potential demutualisations exists<br />

among other Canadian co-<strong>op</strong>s and mutuals,<br />

according to a recent report by the Canadian<br />

Centre for the Study of <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>eratives (CCSC).<br />

These concerns were exacerbated by the<br />

demutualisation of Mountain Equipment <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong><br />

(MEC), the largest consumer co<strong>op</strong>erative in<br />

Canada, back in 2020.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> leaders surveyed by CCSC said they<br />

regarded the demutualisation of MEC as<br />

“a cautionary tale” which highlighted the<br />

importance of building a board culture that<br />

views the co-<strong>op</strong> model as a strength. They also<br />

emphasised the importance of co-<strong>op</strong>-specific<br />

board governance training and education.<br />

Economical Mutual Insurance, which now<br />

brands itself as Economical Insurance, argues<br />

that demutualisation is an exciting <strong>op</strong>portunity<br />

that will enable it to invest in the business<br />

and innovate, especially by acquiring other<br />

companies, strengthen its financial position for<br />

long-term success and better compete with other<br />

insurance companies.<br />

However, <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives and Mutuals Canada<br />

(CMC), the apex representing the country’s co<strong>op</strong>s<br />

and mutuals, says the sector is more resilient<br />

than the average business. CMC is undertaking

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 41<br />



a 2.5-year study on the impact of <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 on the<br />

co-<strong>op</strong> and mutual sector in Canada.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives and mutuals have proven to<br />

be more resilient than the average business.<br />

The decision by Economical Mutual Insurance<br />

membership to demutualise and distribute its<br />

assets goes against the intent and business<br />

model of individuals who create co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

and mutuals – and contribute to their growth,”<br />

said John Kay, president of CMC.<br />

Shaun Tarbuck, chief executive of the<br />

International <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative and Mutual<br />

Insurance Federation (ICMIF) also criticised<br />

the demutualisation of Economical Mutual<br />

Insurance, adding that there was no business<br />

case for the move.<br />

He said: “The demutualisation of The<br />

Economical is a long-running saga driven by<br />

greed of the few. This has been ongoing for<br />

over ten years now and was started by less than<br />

1,000 owners of the Economical who saw an<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity to sell the business and therefore<br />

receive over $1m each.<br />

Threat to values<br />

“The unique dual membership structure that<br />

The Economical has had since the 1920s meant<br />

that less than 1,000 member owners control the<br />

mutual and all the other member policyholders<br />

have had no ownership rights. There are three<br />

other mutuals with similar structures in Canada<br />

but they all are firmly committed to mutuality.”<br />

Mr Bowey insists the idea of “neighbour<br />

helping neighbour” on which the mutual was<br />

created 145 years ago continues to shape the<br />

business. He said back in May: “Economical was<br />

created 150 years ago in a small town that is now<br />

Kitchener, Ontario, with the idea of neighbour<br />

helping neighbour. That value still holds true<br />

for our company and will live on in the way we<br />

serve our customers and through the significant<br />

impact of the charitable foundation that this<br />

process will bring to life.”<br />

But Mr Tarbuck expects to see class action<br />

lawsuits post demutualisation and warns that<br />

the mutual’s values might be lost due to the<br />

decision to demutualise.<br />

“There have been many challenges made to<br />

the validity of the demutualisation, which is<br />

why it has taken so long, and there are likely to<br />

be class action lawsuits post demutualisation,”<br />

he added. “There is no business reason to<br />

demutualise, as was the case with the majority<br />

of the demutualisations in the 1990s, it was then<br />

and is now driven by greed of the few.<br />

“As with most demutualisations, the company<br />

may well be acquired within a year or two by a<br />

larger stock company and the history of The<br />

Economical and the communities it used to serve<br />

will be lost or members will probably move to<br />

another mutual or co-<strong>op</strong>erative insurer.<br />

As to the future, Mr Tarbuck believes that new<br />

mutuals will emerge in the years to come.<br />

“Given the mis-selling of so many mutuals in<br />

the 1990s, there is now a significant challenge by<br />

the regulators, media and customers should any<br />

mutual pr<strong>op</strong>ose to demutualise nowadays, for<br />

example LV= in the UK.<br />

“Thankfully, we are now seeing a trend for<br />

the creation of new mutuals with several being<br />

started in the last few years and also the remutualisation<br />

of stock company insurers as we<br />

have seen in Scandinavia recently.<br />

“Demutualisation was a trend in the 1990s<br />

which was proven to be driven by greed.<br />

However, many more businesses these days<br />

are trying to be fairer, more socially aware and<br />

looking to be values-led organisations with a<br />

social purpose, The Economical demutualisation<br />

is a real outlier.”<br />

Despite the recent demutualisations of MEC<br />

and the Economical Mutual Insurance, the co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

sector remains strong in Canada, says<br />

CMC. <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s represent 3.4% of the country’s<br />

gross domestic product (GDP) and provide<br />

almost 200,000 jobs.<br />

q The old HQ of the<br />

Waterloo Mutual Fire<br />

Insurance <strong>Co</strong>mpany,<br />

later a part of<br />

Economical<br />

Facing page: A header<br />

from Economical’s<br />

website which sets<br />

out the “exciting<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity” of<br />


42 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />



Susan Press<br />

Staff at an influential left-wing publication in the<br />

US claim they were fired for trying to organise<br />

into a workers’ co-<strong>op</strong>erative.<br />

Current Affairs, a bi-monthly magazine and<br />

podcast, was founded in 2015 with the aim of<br />

making left politics fun and rendering all other<br />

magazines “both despised and obsolete and,<br />

in the process of doing so, to help usher in a<br />

glorious era of democratic socialism”.<br />

Subscriptions, according to the website,<br />

mean that “not only are you supporting a left<br />

media institution with credibility and influence,<br />

but you’re also giving a cheerful middle finger<br />

to wealthy corporations, subservient state<br />

pr<strong>op</strong>agandists, and joyless buzzkills across<br />

the world!”<br />

But angry writers and admin staff say several<br />

leading members of their team were ‘unilaterally<br />

fired’ at the beginning of August following<br />

an online ‘virtual retreat’ where editor-inchief<br />

Nathan J Robinson axed jobs to avoid an<br />

organisational restructuring being carried out<br />

on co-<strong>op</strong>erative lines.<br />

Five members of staff, including business<br />

manager Allegra Silcox and managing editor<br />

Lyta Gold, signed a joint letter, released on social<br />

media, in which they claimed the firings were<br />

down to plans to restructure the publication to a<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erative model.<br />

They claim Robinson feared his editorial<br />

autonomy would be taken away.<br />

“We discussed it informally, we tried piecemeal<br />

reforms, we did a full-organisation survey and<br />

one-on-one interviews with editors and staff<br />

to try to find consensus on a collective vision.<br />

Everyone’s stated goal, including Nathan’s,<br />

was to create a democratic workplace where all<br />

voices were equally valued. But when we finally<br />

got around to discussing organisational models<br />

during a Zoom meeting, Nathan insisted that<br />

in our attempt to set shared internal values, we<br />

were disregarding his vision for Current Affairs.<br />

The next morning, he sent letters requesting<br />

resignations, eliminating positions, and in some<br />

cases offering new ‘honorary titles’ which would<br />

have no say in governance,” reads the letter.<br />

Managing editor Lyta Gold, formerly a close<br />

associate and friend, expressed her discontent<br />

on Twitter: “I’m so sad about all of this. I loved<br />

my job. I loved the articles I edited and the<br />

writers and artists I worked with. I loved the<br />

podcast. I still can’t believe that Nathan tried to<br />

take Current Affairs from us because he didn’t<br />

want to share power.”<br />

Robinson is no stranger to controversy. He<br />

once worked for the Guardian as a columnist but<br />

lost his slot following allegations of ‘fake news’<br />

Tweets about Israel. Born in Stevenage, his<br />

family relocated to the US when he was a small<br />

boy and he describes himself as a ‘libertarian<br />

socialist’.<br />

Amid the latest furore, he has released a<br />

statement in which he admits making ‘terrible<br />

mistakes’ but denies blocking moves to make the<br />

workplace more democratic.

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 43<br />

u Nathan Robinson<br />

speaks at the Austin<br />

Democratic Socialists<br />

of America in 2020<br />

(Photo: Austin DSA)<br />

“I have never sought a profit<br />

from Current Affairs and never<br />

<strong>op</strong>posed any changes to<br />

working conditions.”<br />

He said: “I cannot defend my recent actions<br />

as good. Clearly they were a disaster. I felt very<br />

stupid about asking Lyta to resign immediately<br />

after doing it and apologised profusely and<br />

begged her not to go.<br />

“Current Affairs has a record of workplace<br />

egalitarianism that I am proud of.”<br />

He added: “All full-time staff, including myself<br />

earn the same salary. Jobs have a high level of<br />

autonomy. I have never sought a profit from<br />

Current Affairs and never <strong>op</strong>posed any changes<br />

to working conditions. I had a conflict with these<br />

staff over editorial control. I ultimately asked<br />

two staff members, our business manager and<br />

admin, to resign. They declined and still work for<br />

Current Affairs. Nobody has been fired.”<br />

Board member Adrian Rennix, also a founding<br />

writer for the libertarian socialist publication,<br />

said: “Everyone at Current Affairs, including<br />

Nathan, has long stated they wanted it to be<br />

a democratic workplace. I can confirm that<br />

there continued to be universal concern about<br />

implementing functional, shared decisionmaking<br />

procedures, and a broad interest in<br />

worker ownership.”<br />

Mr Rennix added: “As of the time of the<br />

attempted firings conducted by Nathan, no<br />

actual decisions on organisational restructuring<br />

had been made: we were only beginning the<br />

conversation about possible workplace models.<br />

For all that Nathan now claims that he does not<br />

want total control and ownership over Current<br />

Affairs and wanted a board-owned non-profit<br />

model for this reason, I would note that he did<br />

not consult a single board member about these<br />

attempted forced resignations and indeed<br />

obstructed all our efforts to reach out to him for<br />

conversations in advance of these actions.”<br />

The editorial board of Current Affairs has now<br />

stepped in, in a bid to resolve the matter, with<br />

a month’s grace for all employees until the end<br />

of <strong>September</strong> when it is still h<strong>op</strong>ed the magazine<br />

will resume publication. All staff will be paid<br />

until then but no income or severance pay is<br />

guaranteed after that.<br />

The controversy has attracted considerable<br />

flak from many on the left, including Pulitzer<br />

prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, a<br />

former fan of the publication who this week<br />

accused Robinson a of hypocrisy.<br />

However, the 31-year-old editor-in-chief<br />

denies the accusations that he has betrayed<br />

the socialist principles on which Current Affairs<br />

was founded.<br />

“I have very serious regrets about how I<br />

handled it all, and I have a great deal to learn<br />

about effectively managing an organisation in<br />

accordance with the values I hold,” he said.<br />

“There has never been a dispute between staff<br />

and myself over conditions, pay, benefits, hours,<br />

etc. at Current Affairs. This is because I have<br />

taken great pains to make sure that there are no<br />

unfair labour practices. None have been alleged.<br />

“I strongly dispute that I tried to prevent<br />

Current Affairs from becoming a co-<strong>op</strong>erative.<br />

I freely admit to making poor decisions<br />

that alienated pe<strong>op</strong>le, but I am absolutely<br />

committed to making sure Current Affairs<br />

always has fair labour practices. I will<br />

endeavour to do better than I have done and we<br />

will be transparent and be held accountable. I<br />

realise that many of our supporters will want<br />

evidence that they can trust us to live up to our<br />

values. It is my responsibility to back up my<br />

words with actions going forward.

44 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

How a co-<strong>op</strong> past helped a journey to<br />


David J. Thompson<br />

p Credit: creative commons<br />

image – (Fernando Frazão/<br />

Agência Brasil / CC BY 3.0 br)<br />

Brought up in the Rochdale Village <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> in<br />

Queens, NYC, the young girl who once raced<br />

around the Rochdale Village <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Center<br />

has become one of the fastest Olympic hurdlers<br />

of all time.<br />

In 2016 at the Rio Olympics, Dalilah<br />

Muhammad became the first American woman<br />

ever to win a Gold Medal in the 400 meter<br />

hurdles. She won a Gold Medal for the 400m<br />

hurdles at the 2019 World Championships with<br />

a world record of 52.16 seconds. Muhammad also<br />

won Gold in the 4X400 meter relay at the same<br />

2019 World Championships.<br />

At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Muhammad won<br />

all her heats and took silver medal at the 400m<br />

hurdles. In the Tokyo event on 3 August, she<br />

achieved a personal best of 51.58 seconds which<br />

beat the existing world record and she is the<br />

second fastest woman in the world at this event.<br />

A few days later, on 7 August, Muhammad won<br />

another gold being part of the US Dream Team<br />

that won the 4×400 relay.<br />

Muhammad was born in 1990 and grew up in<br />

Rochdale Village, a housing co-<strong>op</strong> sponsored<br />

by the United Housing Foundation. From a<br />

very young age, Dalilah showed athleticism<br />

especially in track events. After running rampant<br />

at her High School, Muhammad won an athletic<br />

scholarship to the University of Southern<br />

California (USC). In 2012, Muhammad turned<br />

professional and has continued in her winning<br />


SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 45<br />

“THERE’S AN<br />








Muhammad is only the second female 400m<br />

hurdler in history, after Sally Gunnell (UK), to<br />

have won the Olympic, world titles and broken<br />

the world record. She is the second American<br />

Muslim woman to win an Olympic gold medal.<br />

Her parents are Nadirah and Askia Muhammed.<br />

Nadirah is a child protection specialist and Askia<br />

is a Muslim Chaplain, teaching Islamic Studies<br />

at the New York Theological Seminary. All the<br />

family have careers in public service.<br />

“We enjoy family and we enjoy community,”<br />

her father, Askia Muhammad said. “There’s<br />

an African proverb that says it takes a village<br />

to raise a child, and in our experience, that is<br />

the absolute truth. Because so many pe<strong>op</strong>le<br />

contributed to the success of Dalilah and all of<br />

our children.”<br />

Interviewed after her wins this year for NBC<br />

Channel 4 New York Muhammad the track and<br />

field athlete said: “having a big house or a lot<br />

of money” used to motivate her to do her best.<br />

That’s not the case any more. Muhammad says<br />

now it’s all about giving back to her community.<br />

“It makes me proud to be representing Queens<br />

and be from Rochdale Village,” she said. “It’s<br />

definitely the thing that pushes me forward to do<br />

my very best.”<br />

In 2016, Rochdale Village <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> organised<br />

a parade and event to honour her Olympic<br />

achievements. You can see the event here on<br />

YouTube: bit.ly/3zkDjw7<br />

There are 5,860 apartments at Rochdale<br />

Village in 20 buildings of 13 floors each.<br />

Rochdale Village sits on 120 acres most of which<br />

previously had been the Jamaica Race Track.<br />

Nearly 25,000 pe<strong>op</strong>le live at Rochdale Village.<br />

When it <strong>op</strong>ened in 1963, Rochdale Village<br />

was the largest housing co-<strong>op</strong> in the world.<br />

It is now 2nd after <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> City in the Bronx at<br />

16,000 apartments. It takes about three years<br />

on the Rochdale Village waiting list before an<br />

apartment becomes available.<br />

The Rochdale Village <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> web site states:<br />

“Rochdale Village is a completely self-contained<br />

community. Our 120 landscaped acres feature<br />

tall shade trees, lawns, flowerbeds, sitting areas,<br />

baseball field, basketball and tennis courts,<br />

playgrounds and a community garden. Other<br />

amenities include two onsite sh<strong>op</strong>ping malls, a<br />

community centre and senior centre.”<br />

p Credit: creative commons<br />

image – (Fernando Frazão/<br />

Agência Brasil / CC BY 3.0 br)

46 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

150 years of <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong><br />

Rebecca Harvey<br />

q The first edition of<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong><br />

On 2 <strong>September</strong> 1871, the first issue of The <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>News</strong> was published, as “A Record<br />

of Industrial, Political, Humanitarian, and<br />

Educational Progress”.<br />

“What is <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eration?” its <strong>op</strong>ening lines<br />

asked. “The question which heads this article is<br />

to appear ance so simple that many persons will<br />

be almost inclined to call it foolish, and yet a<br />

very little thought will show that it is much more<br />

easy to put the question than to find a pr<strong>op</strong>er<br />

reply to it…”<br />

The publication was a long time coming and<br />

was preceded by journals such as The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erator<br />

(founded by the Manchester and Salford Society<br />

in 1860. This was taken over by journalist Henry<br />

Pitman who shouldered the paper’s full financial<br />

burden and indulged his passionate <strong>op</strong>position<br />

to Dr Edward Jenner’s anti-smallpox vaccination<br />

programme, to the<br />

extent of renaming<br />

the publication ‘The<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erator and Anti-<br />

Vaccinationist’ and a<br />

growing clamour for<br />

the co-<strong>op</strong> movement<br />

to produce its own<br />

weekly newspaper.<br />

A<br />

‘special<br />

conference’ discussed<br />

the establishment<br />

of a paper for the<br />

movement on 5<br />

November 1864, and<br />

further conferences were held in 1865, 1867 and<br />

1868 – with vocal debates disputes around such<br />

a new publication’s name, audience, and who<br />

should control it. But on 10 June, 1871, a meeting<br />

of society representatives and individual<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>erators resolved that a <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

<strong>News</strong>paper Society be set up and a board of<br />

directors appointed.<br />

About £400 in capital was promised, mostly<br />

by individuals, with a quarter coming from<br />

the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Wholesale Society (CWS).<br />

Circulation increased from 7,000 to 15,000<br />

within 18 months – a citation which, according<br />

to <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Union Librarian and ex-<strong>News</strong> journalist<br />

Roy Garratt, “became a worry to some in the<br />

‘<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Establishment’ who felt the <strong>News</strong><br />

should be controlled by the <strong>Co</strong>ngress Central<br />

Board (later the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Union Central Board, later<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK) or CWS”.<br />

But the society’s chair, Thomas Hayes, laid the<br />

ground rules for the paper’s future devel<strong>op</strong>ment<br />

when he told the 1873 <strong>Co</strong>ngress in no uncertain<br />

terms that “the board of the <strong>News</strong> believes that<br />

its perfect independence should be preserved<br />

and that it should be above the suspicion of<br />

being controlled by an organisation other than<br />

its own.”<br />

Printing of the publication was initially<br />

carried out by the North of England Printing<br />

Society — established in 1869 at Balloon Street,<br />

Manchester, to serve the growing number of<br />

retail societies and CWS. By 1919, the Balloon<br />

Street registered office of the society had added

SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong> | 47<br />

a Manchester works, a London branch and a<br />

Newcastle branch and became known as the <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Printing Society.<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong>paper Society (CNS)<br />

bought its own printing machinery in 1887, built<br />

new premises at 22 Long Millgate, Manchester<br />

in 1895 and launched new publications Millgate<br />

Monthly, Our Circle, Women’s Outlook, <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Youth and Sunshine Stories (as well<br />

as Reynolds <strong>News</strong>/Sunday Citizen newspapers)<br />

– recognising the importance of engaging with<br />

young pe<strong>op</strong>le and women.<br />

The CNS became the National <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

Publishing Society, which in turn was renamed<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Press in 1934, and built up an<br />

envied reputation as a printer and publisher<br />

to the co-<strong>op</strong>erative, labour and trade union<br />

movements. The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Press became<br />

the country’s largest trade union printers, and<br />

broadened the base of the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Press<br />

outside the movement was effected through two<br />

companies — Trafford Press Limited and Trafford<br />

Advertising Limited – but the increasing costs<br />

and technological changed led to the decision<br />

to exit the printing sector in 1999, sell off the<br />

society’s remaining Old Trafford print works<br />

(having previously divested its Birmingham<br />

and Newcastle premises), and move the head<br />

office to Holyoake House, a stone’s throw from<br />

its original base in Balloon Street, and current<br />

home to offices for a family of co-<strong>op</strong>s including<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>eratives UK, the <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>llege, the<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Heritage Trust, the Association of<br />

British Credit Unions, the Phone <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> and Third<br />

Sector Accountancy.<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong> has had just 15 editors in<br />

its 150-year existence including a father and<br />

son who held the post for 46 of the publication’s<br />

first 50 years – and just two women, Lily Howe<br />

and myself. They are: R Bailey Walker(1871);<br />

John <strong>Co</strong>llier Farn (1871-1875); Samuel Bamford<br />

(1875-1898); William Bamford (1898-1921); James<br />

A Flanagan (1921-1937); William Richardson<br />

(later Sir William, 1937-1942); Fred Tootill (1942-<br />

1955); David Boydell (1955); Frank Bruckshaw (<br />

1955-1972); Lily Howe (1972-1984); David Short<br />

(1984-1986); Geoff Whiteley (1984-1999); David<br />

Bowman (1999-2012); Anthony Murray (2012-<br />

2018); and Rebecca Harvey (2018- present).<br />

Between us we have witnessed huge changes<br />

within the co-<strong>op</strong>erative movement, both in<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative <strong>News</strong> has<br />

had just 15 editors in its<br />

150-year existence”<br />

the UK and internationally, as well as wider<br />

changes in technology, communication and the<br />

role of the media. As society and co-<strong>op</strong>eratives<br />

have evolved, so too has <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>News</strong>, in scale,<br />

sc<strong>op</strong>e and in its fundamental role of connecting<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives, championing their successes<br />

and challenging their misdemeanors. We<br />

have a growing number of organisational and<br />

individual members around the world. Last<br />

year, our website was visited by someone in<br />

every single country in the world (except three).<br />

We are adapting and devel<strong>op</strong>ing while staying<br />

respectful of our - and the movement’s past.<br />

Thank you for coming on this journey with<br />

us. We are looking forward to seeing where we<br />

go next.

48 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />


Taking back the idea of community<br />

Tomorrow’s<br />

<strong>Co</strong>mmunities: Lessons<br />

for community-based<br />

transformation in the<br />

age of global crises,<br />

ed Henry Tam (Bristol<br />

University Press, <strong>2021</strong>,<br />

£26.99)<br />

Gloucester Services,<br />

a case study for how<br />

community-based<br />

working can deliver<br />

successful outcomes<br />

From the explosion of mutual aid in response<br />

to <strong>Co</strong>vid-19, to growing interest in Preston-style<br />

community wealth building, co-<strong>op</strong>erative ideas<br />

have enjoyed a higher profile in recent years, and<br />

in compiling this book, Henry Tam h<strong>op</strong>es to show<br />

how these ideas can save our democracy from the<br />

reactionary p<strong>op</strong>ulism of recent years.<br />

Setting out to find policies and practices which<br />

can “protect our collective self governance from<br />

abuse and manipulation”, he turns to a number of<br />

figures familiar to co-<strong>op</strong>erators – such as Ed Mayo,<br />

Pat <strong>Co</strong>naty, Dave Boyle and John Restakis – to<br />

explore ways to build community resilience.<br />

Tam warns that political calls to build community<br />

can lead to conservative, <strong>op</strong>pressive policy, and<br />

looks for a progressive way forward “away from<br />

outmoded thinking and practices” – doing so “not at<br />

the expense of close, committed relationships, but<br />

on the basis of building such relationships through<br />

mutual respect and thoughtful co-<strong>op</strong>eration”.<br />

“<strong>Co</strong>mmunities must become active agents<br />

in shaping and pursuing their priorities in<br />

collaboration with their members, other<br />

communities and public institutions,” he says.<br />

How do we make this happen? In their chapter, Ed<br />

Mayo and Pat <strong>Co</strong>naty argue for a “virtuous circle” of<br />

community economic devel<strong>op</strong>ment, which brings<br />

positive social and economic outcomes – and builds<br />

confidence, curing communities of a condition of<br />

“learned helplessness”; they cite examples from<br />

the USA where community initiatives have brought<br />

billions of dollars of investment into struggling<br />

areas, using models such as the community land<br />

trust. In the UK, they point to pioneering initiatives<br />

like <strong>Co</strong>in Street <strong>Co</strong>mmunity Builders, given land to<br />

devel<strong>op</strong> by the Greater London <strong>Co</strong>uncil in the 1980s<br />

in response to protests against intrusive t<strong>op</strong>-down<br />

redevel<strong>op</strong>ment; the area now has artists’ studios,<br />

street markets and co-<strong>op</strong> housing.<br />

This is a progressive take on the notion of<br />

community and Mayo and <strong>Co</strong>naty set out a number<br />

of practical models for achieving it.<br />

In a chapter co-written with Philip Ross,<br />

<strong>Co</strong>naty addresses another problem faced by such<br />

communities: the lack of work <strong>op</strong>portunities and<br />

the rise of the exploitative gig economy. Their<br />

solutions include encouraging the growth of<br />

worker co-<strong>op</strong>s, drawing on examples such as Smart<br />

in Eur<strong>op</strong>e and Green Taxis in the US.<br />

There are also instructive looks at how co<strong>op</strong>erative,<br />

community-led models can build<br />

resilience through education (Marjorie Mayo),<br />

community organising (Steve Wyler) and healthcare<br />

(John Restakis) alongside studies of how the model<br />

can help drive food justice (Alice Willatt, Rosalind<br />

Beadle and Mary Brydon- Miller) and sustainability<br />

(Alice Warburton).<br />

Dave Boyle looks at how devel<strong>op</strong>ing methods<br />

of co-production can rethink public services<br />

such as healthcare for the better. Noting that the<br />

UK’s postwar welfare and health reforms which<br />

spring from the Beveridge Report have done<br />

little to narrow inequality, he looks at how GP<br />

practices have managed to improve outcomes<br />

by collaborating with communities on health<br />

and wellbeing projects such as allotments. He<br />

explores ways to make such project work without<br />

them falling under the sway of the government<br />

departments or other organisations which<br />

fund them.<br />

With a political landscape no less polarised<br />

than it was during the upheavals of 2016, and the<br />

pandemic adding to the pressures on society that<br />

have been building since the 2008 crash, this book<br />

offers valuable perspectives on how co-<strong>op</strong>erativism<br />

and allied movements can point the way forward.<br />

And if you need to confront any naysayers, there<br />

are some striking case studies to demonstrate how<br />

it can work in practice, such as the Gloucester<br />

motorway services, <strong>op</strong>ened by a community<br />

partnership on the M5 in 2014, providing training<br />

to 240 long-term unemployed locals, generating<br />

wealth that is channelled into local regeneration,<br />

helping biodiversity, offering a meeting space, and<br />

providing a retail outlet for local produce.<br />

Travellers who take a pit-st<strong>op</strong> at this pleasant<br />

spot should take note that it offers some useful<br />

pointers for a journey to a better tomorrow.

50 | SEPTEMBER <strong>2021</strong><br />

DIARY<br />

The <strong>Co</strong>vid-19 crisis had led to the<br />

postponement of many co-<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

events. However, a number of<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives and apex bodies<br />

are holding online webinars and<br />

meetings.<br />

We listed some of these below.<br />

If you would like to add any<br />

postponements – or let us know<br />

of any virtual events taking place<br />

instead, please email<br />

events@thenews.co<strong>op</strong><br />

UKSCS Annual <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

9-11 <strong>September</strong> <strong>2021</strong><br />

The UKSCS is inviting submissions<br />

for presentations, papers, panels and<br />

practical activities that focus on interco<strong>op</strong>eration<br />

between co-<strong>op</strong>erators and<br />

co-<strong>op</strong>eratives. Pr<strong>op</strong>osals can be oriented<br />

towards generating debates and engaging<br />

members, facilitating experiential<br />

learning activities and/or reporting<br />

the findings of research studies. A full<br />

programme will be made available soon.<br />

bit.ly/3ybvS8R<br />

Decent Work & Democracy – Union<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>s<br />

1-2 October <strong>2021</strong><br />

Union-co<strong>op</strong>s:uk’s first conference will be<br />

held at Wortley Hall, near Sheffield, ‘the<br />

worker’s stately home’. The conference<br />

will look at, among others, how to<br />

‘build back better’ after <strong>Co</strong>vid-19, the gig<br />

economy, what union activists can do<br />

to fight for decent work and democracy<br />

and how to promote democracy in the<br />

workplace. Speakers include Cheryl<br />

Barrott (<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> Party), Miguel Martinez-<br />

Lucio (University of Manchester), Ian<br />

Manborde (Equality & Diversity Organiser<br />

– Equity), Michael Peck (1worker1vote –<br />

USA), Ian Wilson (CASE), Sion Whellens<br />

(Workers <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong> <strong>Co</strong>uncil), and Sarah<br />

Woolley (Gen Sec BFAWU).<br />

bit.ly/388xbuS<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative IMPACT <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

4-8 October <strong>2021</strong><br />

This year’s <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Impact <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

will be a hybrid event - featuring two<br />

days of in-person programming at the<br />

National Press Club while still preserving<br />

the accessibility and convenience of a<br />

virtual event. Organised by the National<br />

<strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Business Association in<br />

the USA, the conference is themed<br />

“Embracing Our <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative Identity” and<br />

will challenge co-<strong>op</strong>erators everywhere<br />

to deepen their understanding of the<br />

values and principles that truly make co<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

enterprise unique.<br />

bit.ly/38bPrDB<br />

<strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Party Annual <strong>Co</strong>nference<br />

and AGM<br />

9-10 October <strong>2021</strong><br />

The <strong>Co</strong>-<strong>op</strong>erative Party’s annual<br />

conference will be held virtually again<br />

this year. Delegates will hear from the<br />

Party’s chair, Jim McMahon MP, as well as<br />

a series of leading Labour/<strong>Co</strong>‐<strong>op</strong> keynote<br />

speakers and players from co‐<strong>op</strong>erative<br />

and socialist movements. Reinvigorating<br />

the high streets and social care are two<br />

of the issues that will be addressed at the<br />

conference, which will also look at the<br />

Party’s recent work and campaigns. More<br />

details will be available at a later date.<br />

bit.ly/3B8ytT2<br />

International Credit Union Day<br />

21 October<br />

Celebrated on the third Thursday of<br />

October since 1948, the International<br />

Credit Union Day aims to raise the<br />

profile of credit unions. The day is an<br />

<strong>op</strong>portunity for the sector to reflect upon<br />

the credit union movement’s history,<br />

promote its achievements, and share<br />

member experiences. This year’s theme<br />

is “Building financial health for a brighter<br />

tomorrow.” Official ICU Day <strong>2021</strong> posters<br />

and logos will be made available soon<br />

by the World <strong>Co</strong>uncil of Credit Unions<br />

and Credit Union National Association<br />

(CUNA).<br />

bit.ly/388JA1X<br />

World <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

1-3 December <strong>2021</strong><br />

The 33rd World <strong>Co</strong><strong>op</strong>erative <strong>Co</strong>ngress<br />

will enable the co<strong>op</strong>erative movement<br />

to explore its identity to build a more<br />

secure future. Using the current global<br />

crisis as a framework, discussions will<br />

aim to deepen the co-<strong>op</strong>erative identity<br />

by examining its values, strengthening<br />

its actions, committing to its principles<br />

and living its achievements. This hybrid<br />

event will be held in person in Seoul, the<br />

Republic of Korea and online.<br />


ethicalconsumer.org<br />


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