Cllr Alan Hall Labour & Co-operative Councillor for Bellingham and former Chair, Lewisham Co-op Party 11th February 2021 Blog Share Tweet I’m proud as a Labour & Co-operative Councillor that my ward Bellingham is a co-operative focal point. The social housing is owned by Phoenix Community Housing, who also host the Lewisham Plus Credit Union, The Fellowship & Star is a co-operatively owned pub hosting a cinema, and our schools are in a co-operative trust. Phoenix are a community gateway housing association. This means that they are run by the tenants who live in their homes and includes the money collected in rent. Phoenix took the brave step in buying the dilapidated Fellowship Inn owned by Lewisham Council at the time. Now thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and Phoenix, the Fellowship and Star is a community hub and still a pub. Lewisham Music is a charity that was formed from the local authority music service and has its headquarters in the Fellowship and Star. Across the playing fields in sight of the Fellowship and Star is Youth First. Youth First is a community benefit society that came out of Lewisham Council’s youth service in September 2016. Born from the passion of both the staff and the council to create a means to sustain and ideally grow youth work in Lewisham, during a climate of continuing cuts and financial pressures across the public sector which elsewhere have served to end more traditional universal youth provision. The Brent Knoll and Watergate Schools Co-operative Trust is a grassroots exempt charity in the borough of Lewisham, supporting children and young people with SEND and profound and complex learning and physical disabilities and their families and carers. Both schools are in Bellingham. This microcosm of co-operation shows the possibilities of putting our values into practice at a local level. Our aspirations are set out in the new London Co-operative Party Council manifesto for the London mayoral and London Assembly elections, and subsequent local elections. Their manifesto explains that as co-operators, our understanding of how to achieve this is deeply practical. Our political philosophy does not come from abstract theories or airy idealism, but from the lessons learned by a movement of ordinary people who, 150 years ago, sought to regain control over their lives and to empower their communities by democratising the places where they shopped and worked. This is something we put into practice in Bellingham and there’s a thriving co-operative store on the high street too. Importantly, the London Co-op Party says that local people should have a voice in regeneration plans, to make sure they deliver the things local communities really want and need rather than serving the needs of developers. In Bellingham, we have a track record of putting local people in charge of community regeneration. Co-operation is at the heart of everything we do.