In the co-operative tradition of inter-trading and mutual support, the Co-operative News reports that the Phone Co-op is to invest £500,000 in transport social enterprise HCT Group, supporting public transport and minimising car use.
This group runs London red buses, social services transport, school transport and park and ride car facilities. It grew from Hackney Community Transport, founded in 1982 by 30 local community groups in the London Borough of Hackney to provide low cost minibuses.
HCT, again in the co-operative tradition, reinvests profits into the communities where they are earned. This supports further transport services or projects and training services for people who are long-term unemployed.
It aims to create employment opportunities for people in its communities, contribute to its local economies. The assets of the HCT group generate community benefit and, crucially, cannot be sold on or distributed for private gain. CT- part of the group, is recruiting.
The investment follows efforts by the Phone Co-op to lower the environmental impact of its transport. The Co-operative News reports that employees are provided with bicycles to use free of charge for commuting and business journeys. Chief executive Vivian Woodell said: “In 2012-13, 91% of our business miles were done by rail, bus, tram/metro, cycling or walking. Few businesses could claim that. We’ll earn a return, but so will society”.
Such measures are also helping to grow the co-operative movement. This year Phone Co-op helped to establish the first student-housing co-op in the UK by purchasing a property with the capacity to house eight students in Birmingham. The house is being leased to the Birmingham Student Housing Co-operative. See our post on another site.
The Phone Co-op has also invested in renewable energy co-ops, including Wedmore Community Power Co-operative and Drumlin Wind Energy Co-operative Limited.