‘That the Parliament notes that Co-operatives Fortnight takes place from 18 June to 2 July 2016; further notes that there are over 560 co-operatives in Scotland employing nearly 16,000 people, with over 1.75 million members and an annual turnover of £3.3 billion; understands that Glasgow City Council has been pursuing a co-operative agenda in order to promote fairness and equality by inviting communities, partners and stakeholders to participate in the planning, management and delivery of services; notes that such initiatives are being taken forward in other local authorities across Scotland; recognises the strong history of co-operatives in Scotland and the positive contribution that they have made to empowering communities, and believes that there is a huge opportunity for the Scottish Government and local authorities to further promote co-operative values and principles in order to help to shape Scotland and its future success.’

I tabled this motion because I believe it is important that the Scottish Parliament marks Co-operatives Fortnight.  Co-operatives have a long and distinguished history in Scotland but it is important that the Scottish Government and local authorities look for ways of promoting co-operatives in twenty-first century Scotland.

I am clear that co-operatives can empower local communities and deliver better business solutions.  I welcome the work done by Co-operative Development Scotland to promote co-operatives.  I think that the Scottish Government should explore ways of strengthening that work.  I believe Co-operative Development Scotland’s remit should be broadened to include housing. Co-operative Development Scotland should be resourced to allow it to give real meaning to the provisions in the Community Empowerment Act and the Land Reform Act; permissive legislation without concrete support is a bit pointless.  It would be interesting and productive for the Scottish Government to open up dialogue on the role of CDS as part of a broader commitment to the potential of co-operatives economically and socially.

Both Glasgow and Edinburgh City Councils are Co-operative Councils and this has demonstrated a different way of working in local government.  This is something that should be looked at more widely in Scotland.  As the Co-operative movement can attest, the approach of doing things ‘with’ rather than ‘to’ people is hugely effective and should be encouraged.

Along with my Scottish Co-operative Party colleagues I will be working in this parliament to ensure that an agenda to promote the co-operative model is delivered.  I hope to be able to convince the Scottish Government to deliver policies which promote co-operatives and I look forward to celebrating Co-operatives Fortnight.