Hot on the heels of last week’s announcement that the ConDem Government has U-turned on its interest in remutualising Northern Rock comes the news that community ownership of pubs is being dropped. Less than a month ago, in launching the Big Society, David Cameron put the idea that punters could save their local using co-op models at its heart. But now we hear that the £3.3 million that Labour had put in place to make this actually happen is being cut by the Tory-led Coalition.

The co-operative movement has reacted angrily. “This is devastating news for each community which had hoped to save their local as a co-operative,” said Peter Couchman, chief executive of the Plunkett Foundation, the group for rural co-ops. “The Government has turned its back on communities who were looking to take more responsibility over their everyday lives.”

General Secretary of the Co-operative Party Michael Stephenson said;

“We are now seeing the true colours of the Tories and LibDems. In Opposition they claimed to support co-operatives yet after barely three months in power they have ruthlessly dumped yet another co-operative initiative.

“Last week they ditched their promise to remutualise Northern Rock. This week they have stuck the knife into local communities around the country by killing off Labour’s plan to save them. David Cameron’s Big Society is just a Big Con.

“The co-operative movement always knew the ConDem commitment to co-operatives was cyncial and not genuine. But the speed and scope of their betrayal has been breathtaking.”