Many cheering news items from a recent issue of the Co-operative News (September 9th) are being sent to the usual mailing list and others of goodwill who are probably not co-operators.
Travel business returns
Anglia Co-operative Travel & Midcounties Society have bought six shops from Thomas Cook in the Midlands, securing the jobs of 22 staff. Some members viewed the original merger as a ‘disaster’ and welcomed the return of these businesses.
Yet another public house brought into the co-operative fold – a traditional real ale pub steeped in history as there has been an alehouse on the site since the 1300s. In the charming village of Hebden Bridge – whose co-operative foodstore the writer used when living in the area – The Fox & Goose Inn ‘regulars’ formed a Friends group and by Thursday 8th August reached their target with share applications for £131,320 from more than 250 investors. The pub had been registered as an asset of community value under the Localism Act when its landlady fell ill and this gave them the first option to buy it.
Cycle training for co-operators
During National Bike Week, co-operative members in London and the South East brought their cycles to co-operative food stores to receive a free bike check-up and on the spot maintenance from Cycle Training UK’s pop up workshops carried by backpack.
CTUK is a not-for-profit workers’ co-operative established in 1999 which has trained over 60,000 people to ride safely and confidently on London roads. As an Instructor Training Organisation they offer a range of cycle maintenance courses and have been approved by DfT to deliver National Standards cycle instructor training and instructor professional development courses.
Co-operative housing schemes
The Welsh government is giving £1.9 million funding for three pioneer co-operative housing schemes. The News reports that the pilots in Newport, Cardiff and Carmarthenshire will provide around 89 new co-operative houses, but Inside Housing says there will be 58. Both agree on the unlitame goal of 400 co-operative homes in Wales. The minister commented that they will meet the needs of households who are currently priced out of the owner-occupied sector but whose needs are not so great that they can access social housing.
Lincolnshire Co-operative proposes to host libraries
This innovative and public spirited co-operative society – following a successful pilot (above) in Waddington – has offered to move ten libraries into its local food and pharmacy branches. Lincolnshire County Council has been consulting residents about the future of the library service, and has invited people or organisations to run libraries in their community.
In Waddington there has been a 13% increase in the number of active users in the first six months of 2013 compared with the same period the previous year, and almost double the number of new members joined. Read much more here.
Finally, a seaside pier – another community asset – has been taken into community ownership
Co-operatives UK’s well-received new report, People’s Piers, highlights the crisis faced by many popular piers and offers a blueprint for their revival as co-operatively-owned assets for the benefit of the community.
Report author Jess Steele, co-founder of the People’s Pier Co-operative, which will run Hastings Pier, an asset now in community ownership, notes that “Too many are trapped in a cycle of neglectful ownership with only periodic attempts at conservation”
The News reports that Hastings Pier, which opened on the first ever August Bank Holiday in 1872, was owned by a firm registered in Panama before it was closed on safety grounds in 2006. It was seriously damaged by arson in 2010 and has been transferred to community ownership this month.A community share issue will launch in September to supplement heritage grant funding and enable local ownership.
At a time of falling profits and news from the evidence given to the Treasury Select Committee by Neville Richardson the former chief executive of the bank/Co-operative Financial Services, it is important to highlight such beneficial initiatives as widely as possible.