Today I visited three new Co-operatives with Co-operative Party General Secretary Karin Christiansen.

First we visited Enabled Works which was formed by disabled workers from the Leeds Remploy plant after it was shut by the Government in Novermber 2012. The announcement came in March 2012 and I sat down with the workers and their union GMB to start planning the co-operative if the closure went ahead.

With support from the Co-operative Enterprise Hub we got the Co-op registered, a business plan written and start-up funding. Working with fellow Co-op Cllr Neil Dawson we secured Business Rate Relief and the workers secured premises and contracts for work. Enabled Works now undertake a range of services including electrical and mechanical assembly working with some of Leeds largest businesses including Premier Farnell and Straight PLC.

They are looking to grow and without the Co-op none of them would be employed at all, we know this as Remploy Employment Services have failed to secure employment for the vast majority of workers who were made redundant by the closures of Remploy plants.

Karin and I then visited Leeds Bread Co-op which was formed by two bakers who wanted to give artisan bakers an opportunity to promote the benefits of bread in a socially responsible way. The Co-op funded its oven through an ingenious crowd funding offer where those who contributed were repaid in bread. The Co-op now supplies individuals and businesses across the City. These guys love bread and are teaching members of the community to make artisanal bread.

Lastly we went to Kaba-PC who provide a range of IT Services in Hyde Park. An internet café, computer repairs, recycling old PCs and access to affordable used computers. The co-operative gives access to those in the community who cannot afford to buy their own computer equipment, in particular asylum seekers and refugees who were central in establishing Kaba.
It’s not just these three we have so many new great Co-ops in Leeds including a community owned grocer, a bike repair co-op, an arts and crafts co-op, a low carbon housing co-op and so many more.

For more details on the three Co-ops go to